Daily Record Staff//April 6, 2023
//April 6, 2023
Maryland Volunteer Lawyers Service (MVLS), a statewide provider of free legal services to low-income Marylanders, will receive a $542,775 grant from Maryland Legal Services Corporation (MLSC) to implement a statewide outreach, education and referral network to help expunge the criminal records of Marylanders charged with cannabis-related violations.
A constitutional amendment that authorizes the adult use and possession of cannabis in Maryland goes into effect July 1.
MVLS’ 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 MLSC 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.
MVLS will work with Allegany Law Foundation; Community Legal Services of Prince George’s County; FreeState Justice; Harford County Bar Foundation; Homeless Persons Representation Project; Maryland Legal Aid; and MidShore Pro Bono to increase awareness and accessibility of expungement services starting this month. This collaboration will include public awareness and direct mailing campaigns, free legal clinics and increased staffing.
Marylanders with cannabis-related charges can visit mvlslaw.org/free-legal-help to check their eligibility and apply for services.
As a part of the project, MVLS will hire four community navigators to cover western Maryland, southern Maryland, Baltimore and the prison population – and connect clients to MVLS attorneys and staff, or the appropriate legal services organization involved with the project. MVLS also will hire a paralegal to coordinate the navigators’ efforts and perform legal research and document requests.