Murder, I smoked! The quaint Maine fishing villages that inspired Jessica Fletcher’s beloved Cabot Cove may end up like San Francisco and Portland thanks to progressive lawmakers’ plans to legalize all drugs
By Harriet Alexander for Dailymail.com
05:29 January 19, 2024, updated 08:02 January 19, 2024
- The Maine Legislature’s Health and Human Services Committee on Wednesday spent four hours discussing a proposal to decriminalize all drugs.
- The bill, introduced by New Castle Democratic Rep. Lydia Crafts, would also increase health care funding for addicts.
- Oregon in 2020 became the first state in the country to decriminalize drugs, but the experiment was highly problematic, with a 13-fold increase in ozone-depleting substances
The quaint fishing villages in Maine that inspired Jessica Fletcher’s beloved Cabot Cove could become a dystopian, crime-ridden hellhole like San Francisco or Portland if progressive Maine lawmakers get their way.
Members of the state Legislature on Wednesday spent four hours debating whether to decriminalize all drugs in the Pine Tree State.
Under the scheme proposed by Democratic Rep. Lydia Crafts, even possession of heroin and cocaine would not be considered a criminal offense. Instead, money spent on drug enforcement will be directed to health care as part of a so-called “harm reduction” strategy.
Maine’s Democratic Governor, Maura Mills, says she strongly opposes decriminalization measures.
Crafts’ plan ignores the troubled example of Oregon, which in 2020 became the first state to legalize all types of drugs. Portland, Oregon’s largest city, is now struggling with drug abuse and homelessness, and there are moves to repeal the law.
San Francisco, which largely does not prosecute public drug use, thanks to its progressive political leaders, has seen a similar rise in drug use. San Francisco recorded 806 accidental drug overdose deaths last year, the highest the city has ever seen.
It appears the craft scheme may endanger Maine’s famous coastal villages – including the fictional Cabot Cove – a cozy fishing town where Jessica Fletcher, Angela Lansbury’s famous teacher turned crime novelist, has solved a slew of murders.
The 1980s and 1990s classic was filmed mostly in Montecito, California, and the port used in the series was the set of the Universal Studios theme park.
But the laid-back atmosphere of the hit series has been so popular with viewers that many are visiting the real Maine to enjoy the atmosphere of Cabot Cove — with the prospect of encountering open drug use likely to derail such plans.
Residents of those villages are unlikely to welcome the program that Oregon pioneered.
Even top Democratic lawmakers who supported Oregon’s law say they are now open to reconsidering it.
Oregon saw the highest increase in overdose deaths from synthetic opioids when comparing 2019 and the year through June 30 — a 13-fold increase.
The number rose from 84 deaths in 2019 to more than 1,100.
Among the next highest rates was neighboring Washington state, which saw an estimated seven-fold increase in overdose deaths from synthetic opioids when comparing those same time periods, CDC data show.
However, Maine lawmakers did not appear discouraged.
The scale of their state’s drug crisis pales in comparison to San Francisco’s: While the California city had 806 deaths in 2023, the entire state of Maine, in the year through November, had 559.
Some political leaders in Maine said the time was right for an experiment.
“This bill aims to create a statewide public health-based response to substance use in Maine,” Crafts said in testimony Wednesday as she introduced the bill, according to The Maine Wire.
“Our public health approach to LD 1975 aims to help people rebuild their lives through medical intervention, increased contact, and social support. Incarceration hinders this goal.
Lucas John Lanigan, a Republican who represents Sanford and whose son struggled with heroin addiction, said he supports rethinking current policies.
“We can either continue to bury our heads in the sand or invest in the future of so many tormented by addiction and mental health issues,” he testified.
“We can invest now, or we will pay later. It’s really simple.”
Megan Sway of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) in Maine agreed that putting people in prison for drug crimes was not the right move.
“Instead of responding to drug use with punishment, which is not working, LD 1975 would begin to shift our drug policy away from incarceration and punishment and toward an informed public health framework — a model centered around a view of the whole person and the individual. It offers care, compassion, and grace,” she said.
But Regan Paul, a Republican who represents Winterport, said he supports “investments in education and prevention, access to treatment, support for recovery services, and enforcement” — but not decriminalization.
“We must build a system that provides help to those willing to accept it and work to recover, but we should not enable people to continue dangerous behaviors that harm them and society as a whole,” he said.
Aaron Frey, Maine’s attorney general, said he was concerned that eliminating criminal penalties would “normalize” the use of controlled substances.
“I am concerned that blanket legalization of the possession of drugs — some of which are highly addictive and at least one of which is extremely time-bound — would normalize the activity, which has significant public safety and public health implications,” he said.
The committee concluded its discussion after four hours of debate: no debate scheduled yet in the Maine Statehouse.
(tags for translation) murder