Prince George’s County residents were invited to a free expungement information clinic Saturday at the Mary & Main medical cannabis dispensary in Capitol Heights, Maryland.
The event was put together to help those with marijuana convictions learn how to clear their records.
Attorneys were on site to offer advice for those who have criminal charges on their record.
The event is part of Prince George’s County State’s Attorney Aisha Braveboy’s efforts to provide more opportunity for people dealing with low-level marijuana-related crimes.
“Expunging their record can give them opportunities for jobs, for housing, and for so many opportunities that people who don’t have convictions have,” she said.
Residents received personal guidance on the expungement process from attorneys who reviewed their case information and court records.
Maryland State Assembly delegate Darryl Barnes (D-Prince George’s County), who worked on the event with Braveboy, said the point is to provide second chances for county residents who have not been convicted of violent crimes.
He said it’s an important mission for the county as it looks at new policies, including the legalization of marijuana in the state.
“How do we right the wrongs of people that are still incarcerated today for marijuana?” he asked. “Once we can figure that out, then I think we can move forward.”
Braveboy said her office has expanded diversion and second-chance programs to help keep low-level offenders out of the system.
“Over 85% of those convicted in Prince George’s County are Black. Right now, we’re not even prosecuting for simple possession of marijuana, so our policies have changed, the conversations nationally and locally have changed,” Braveboy said.
She stressed the idea that laws must be enforced, but it should happen in a fair and just way.
“I think what we have to do is focus our prosecution on the traffickers, those who are committing
violent offenses. Those who have simple possession charges … no, we don’t want you to possess marijuana, but we’re not going to ruin your life,” she said.
County leaders expect to provide more opportunities like today’s event for residents seeking expungement services in the future.