Murder, she SMOKED! Quaint Maine fishing villages that inspired Jessica Fletcher’s beloved Cabot Cove could end up like San Francisco and Portland thanks to progressive lawmaker’s plans to legalize all drugs

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Written By Maya Cantina
  • Maine Legislature’s Committee on Health and Human Services on Wednesday spent four hours discussing a proposal to decriminalize all drugs
  • The bill, introduced by a Democrat from Newcastle, Lydia Crafts, would also increase funding for healthcare for addicts
  • Oregon in 2020 became the first state in the nation to decriminalize drugs, but the experiment has been intensely problematic, with a 13-fold increase in ODs 

The quaint Maine fishing villages that inspired Jessica Fletcher’s beloved Cabot Cove could become dystopian, crime-ridden hellholes 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 Democrat representative Lydia Crafts even possessing heroin and cocaine would not be considered a criminal offense. Money spent on enforcing drugs laws would instead be directed to healthcare as part of a so-called ‘harm reduction’ strategy. 

Maine’s Democrat Governor Maura Mills says she strongly opposes decriminalization measures.

Crafts’s plan ignores the troubled example of Oregon – which in 2020 became the first state to legalize all drugs. Portland, the largest city in Oregon, is now plagued by drug abuse and homelessness and there are moves to rescind the law.

San Francisco, which thanks to its progressive political leaders largely does not prosecute public drug use, has seen a similar surge in abuse. San Francisco recorded 806 accidental drug overdose deaths last year, the highest level the city has ever seen.

Crafts’s scheme seems could jeopardize Maine’s famous seaside villages –  including the fictional Cabot Cove – a cozy fishing town where Angela Lansbury’s iconic teacher-turned crime novelist Jessica Fletcher solved a slew of murders.

Jessica Fletcher – played by Angela Lansbury – is pictured enjoying life in the fictional Maine town of Cabot Cove. But the quaint Maine fishing villages that inspired it could soon become dystopian hellholes like Portland or San Francisco if progressive lawmakers’ plans to legalize all drugs in the Pine Tree State come to pass  

Although Murder She Wrote was filmed in California, the series had a cozy Maine vibe which viewers loved - and which is now potentially threatened by plans to decriminalize cocaine, heroin and fentanyl

Although Murder She Wrote was filmed in California, the series had a cozy Maine vibe which viewers loved – and which is now potentially threatened by plans to decriminalize cocaine, heroin and fentanyl

Stonnington in Maine is one of the villages tourists now flock to in a bid to enjoy the Cabot Cove vibe - with plans to let people do drugs openly likely to derail the atmosphere

Stonnington in Maine is one of the villages tourists now flock to in a bid to enjoy the Cabot Cove vibe – with plans to let people do drugs openly likely to derail the atmosphere

A drug user is seen shooting up in San Francisco, where drug use is rarely prosecuted

A drug user is seen shooting up in San Francisco, where drug use is rarely prosecuted

The streets of San Francisco have been blighted by drug abuse for years

The streets of San Francisco have been blighted by drug abuse for years

Drug users are pictured in downtown Portland, Oregon, in the middle of the day in August

Drug users are pictured in downtown Portland, Oregon, in the middle of the day in August 

The 80s and 90s classic was filmed mostly in Montecito, California, and the harbor used in the series was a set that’s part of the Universal Studios theme park.

But the mega hit series cozy atmosphere was so popular with viewers that many visit the real Maine to soak up the Cabot Cove vibe – with the possibility of encountering open drug use likely to derail such plans.

And residents of those villages are unlikely to welcome the program which Oregon pioneered.

Even top Democratic lawmakers who backed Oregon’s law say they’re now open to revisiting it.

Oregon had the highest increase in synthetic opioid overdose fatalities when comparing 2019 and the year to June 30 – a 13-fold surge.

The figure rose from 84 deaths in 2019 to more than 1,100.

Among the next highest was neighboring Washington state, which saw its estimated synthetic opioid overdose deaths increase seven-fold when comparing those same time periods, CDC data shows.

Maine’s lawmakers, however, did not appear discouraged.

Angela Lansbury, star of Murder, She Wrote - which was set in the Maine village of Cabot Cove

Angela Lansbury, star of Murder, She Wrote – which was set in the Maine village of Cabot Cove

Lydia Crafts is behind the bill to decriminalize drugs in Maine. The bill was discussed by a committee on Wednesday

Lydia Crafts is behind the bill to decriminalize drugs in Maine. The bill was discussed by a committee on Wednesday

The scale of their state’s drug crisis is dwarfed by San Francisco’s: while the Californian city had 806 fatalities in 2023, the entire state of Maine, in the year to November, had 559.

And some of Maine’s political leaders said the time was right to experiment.

‘This bill aims to create a state-wide public health-based response to substance use in Maine,’ said Crafts in her testimony on Wednesday introducing the bill, according to The Maine Wire.

‘Our public health approach to LD 1975 aims at helping people rebuild their lives through medical intervention, increased connection and social support. Incarceration impedes this goal.’

Lucas John Lanigan, a Republican representing Sanford, whose son battled a heroin addiction, said that he supported a rethinking of the current policies.

‘We can either continue to bury our heads in the sand or invest in the future of so many tormented with addiction and mental health problems,’ he testified.

‘We can invest now, or we will pay later. It really is simple.’

Meagan Sway of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) Maine agreed that putting people in prison for drug offenses was not the right move.

‘Instead of responding to drug use with punishment, which does not work, LD 1975 would begin to transition our drug policy away from incarceration and punishment and toward a public-health informed framework – a model that is centered on seeing the whole person and one that offers care, compassion, and grace,’ she said.

Some Maine politicians have supported following in Oregon's footsteps and legalizing drugs. Portland, Oregon users are pictured in broad daylight last year

Some Maine politicians have supported following in Oregon’s footsteps and legalizing drugs. Portland, Oregon users are pictured in broad daylight last year

Officer Donny Mathew of the Portland Police Bureau's bike squad stands next to a person who appears to be passed out in May 2023

Officer Donny Mathew of the Portland Police Bureau’s bike squad stands next to a person who appears to be passed out in May 2023

But Reagan Paul, a Republican representing Winterport, said he supported ‘investments in education and prevention, access to treatment, support of recovery services, and enforcement’ – but not decriminalization.

‘We must build a system that has help in place for those willing to accept it and work towards recovery, but we shouldn’t enable people to continue dangerous behaviors that are harmful to them and all of society,’ he said.

Aaron Frey, Maine’s attorney general, said he was concerned that the removal of criminal penalties would ‘normalize’ the use of controlled substances.

‘I am concerned that blanket legalization of drug possession — some of which are highly addictive and at least one of which is extremely deadline — would normalize the activity, which has significant implications for public safety and public health,’ he said.

The committee concluded its debate after four hours of discussion: there is no debate scheduled so far in Maine’s statehouse.

ᴀʀᴛɪᴄʟᴇ ꜱᴏᴜʀᴄᴇ

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