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September 21, 2018 02:19 PM

Maine’s Department of Health and Human Services is shutting down efforts by one restaurant owner to use marijuana to lessen the trauma that lobsters experience before they are cooked.

Charlotte Gill, the owner of Charlotte’s Legendary Lobster Pound in Southwest Harbor, Maine, says together with her employees, she has successfully used marijuana smoke to calm lobsters down, the New York Times reported. Prior to putting one lobster into a container, Gill says it was flapping its tail and claws, but quickly became completely “serene” after being exposed to the smoke.

“It’s still a very alert lobster, but there’s no sign of agitation, no flailing of legs, no trying to pinch you,” Gill says. “So calm, in fact, that you’re able to freely touch the lobster all over without them trying to strike at you or to be aggressive in any way.”

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Although Gill is legally growing the marijuana herself, state health inspectors say what she is doing to the lobsters it not legal.

Emily Spencer, a spokeswoman for the state’s Department of Health and Human Services, told the New York Times that the state’s health inspectors “would treat food served to consumers at licensed eating places and affected by marijuana, as has been described with this establishment, as adulterated and therefore illegal.”

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Gill says employees have tested their urine after eating the lobsters, who were treated with the marijuana method, and no trace of the drug was found.

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But Joseph Ayers, a professor of marine and environmental sciences and biology at Northeastern University, says lobsters do not feel pain like humans do.

“They’re much simpler than insects,” he told the New York Times. “They can’t report. This is really from the perspective of how we expect verification from humans. You’re probably never going to get that from a lobster.”

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