SOUTHWEST HARBOR (WGME) -- A Maine lobster pound has been doing rather unusual testing on live lobsters, getting them high on marijuana smoke, before cooking them.
For eight years, Charlotte Gill has been steaming lobsters at her lobster pound in Southwest Harbor, and for eight years, she's felt guilty about it.
"There have been all the studies done saying that lobsters don't feel pain,” Gill said. “That's not true. I've cooked them for years, and I can assure you that they absolutely do, and there's tremendous suffering."
She's been looking for a way to reduce that suffering, and in the middle of the night, she says she woke up with the answer: marijuana.
"Lobsters have cannabinoid receptors,” Gill said. “So if they have the cannabinoid receptors, it means that they can utilize it."
So as a licensed medical marijuana caregiver, she started experimenting on lobsters in a sealed container.
"You pump the smoke into there, and that's it," Gill said.
She says it calmed even the most aggressive crustaceans.
"The attitude was completely different,” Gill said. “The animal was peaceful. The animal was calm."
She believes sedating lobsters gives them a more humane death.
"This is not about getting lobsters high,” Gill said. “It's not about getting people high that are hoping to find an edible. It's about trying to make a process that is largely inhumane better."
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals disagrees:
"It is highly unlikely that getting a lobster high would make a lick of difference when it comes to the full-blown agony of being boiled or steamed alive."
Despite objections from PETA, Gill is convinced this is a more humane way, and she's hoping to one day sell these crustaceans to customers who prefer their lobsters “baked” before they're boiled.
"If we can make it a more humane passage, we should," Gill said.
State health inspectors have asked Gill to stop getting lobsters high while they investigate.
She says she's made a point to not sell any of the lobsters she's given marijuana to.