Mid-Shore Pro Bono recently received funding from a Maryland Legal Services Corporation (MLSC) grant to provide legal services for cannabis-related criminal record expungement. Funding will also support MSPB’s collaborative work with statewide partners to provide community outreach and education on expungement services. A constitutional amendment authorizing the adult use and possession of cannabis in Maryland goes into effect on July 1, 2023.
“Disqualification for employment and housing due to cannabis violations can have life-limiting, long-lasting implications,” said Mid-Shore Pro Bono’s Legal Director, Laura Chafey, Esq. “Expunging the criminal records of Marylanders charged with cannabis-related violations means more opportunity for equitable employment and housing.”
MSPB’s funding is part of a $2.5 million grant awarded to eight legal services providers in the state. The Maryland General Assembly appropriated the one-time funding to Maryland Legal Services Corporation to distribute to its grantees to educate individuals on changes to cannabis and expungement laws and support expungement efforts between April 2023 and June 2024. Marylanders with a household income of up to 50% of Maryland’s median income are eligible for free legal assistance.
Mid-Shore Pro Bono is collaborating with other MLSC grantees to increase awareness and accessibility of expungement services through public service announcements and direct mail campaigns, free legal clinics, and increased staffing. Other collaborators include the Allegany Law Foundation, Community Legal Services of Prince George’s County, FreeState Justice, Harford County Bar Foundation, the Homeless Persons Representation Project, Maryland Volunteer Lawyers Service, and Maryland Legal Aid.
“Thousands of people have been needlessly brought into the criminal justice system through aggressive cannabis possession laws, especially Black people and those with limited financial means,” said Mid-Shore Pro Bono Executive Director Meredith Lathbury-Girard, Esq. “Mid-Shore Pro Bono is pleased to help people on the Eastern Shore access this life-changing legal assistance.”
MSPB is hosting criminal expungement clinics on Thurs., May 11 from 1 to 4 p.m. at the Easton branch of the Talbot County Free Library; on Wednesday, May 24 from 5 to 7 p.m., at a to-be-announced location in Salisbury; on Thurs., June 1 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Federalsburg branch of the Caroline County Public Library; and on Tues., July 25 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Cambridge branch of the Dorchester County Library.
Prescheduled appointments are required for all clinics by calling 410-690-8128 before May 1 for the Easton clinic, before May 10 for the Salisbury clinic, before May 15 for the Federalsburg clinic, and before July 1 for the Cambridge clinic.
Mid-Shore Pro Bono delivers a mission of helping Maryland’s Eastern Shore residents obtain access to legal assistance for civil matters through a network of volunteers and offices in Easton and Salisbury. Individuals seeking expungement services can complete an online intake form at www.midshoreprobono.org, or call 410-690-8128 during normal business hours.