In a February 25 article, The Boston Globe reported on a new legal aid clinic in Somerville that brings attorneys from Greater Boston Legal Services (GBLS) to help people remove crimes related to marijuana from their official records. An excerpt from the article is below.
SOMERVILLE — More than four years after the first cannabis retailers opened in Massachusetts, the industry has surpassed $4 billion in sales as new dispensaries and delivery services in the recently legalized business push the market to the brink of saturation.
But an event held Saturday afternoon at a church in Somerville sought to raise awareness about another aspect of marijuana legalization that gets less attention but carries the potential to transform lives. The program, called Changing Legacies, offered free legal assistance to people who hope the easing of marijuana laws have made them eligible to expunge state marijuana offenses from their criminal records or seal them from public view in most cases.
Ryan Dominguez, executive director of MASS CultivatED, a workforce development and jobs training program for the cannabis industry, said the free legal aid is the organization’s most popular program.
Since the group was established in 2020, Dominguez said, 125 people have initiated efforts to have their criminal records expunged or sealed with legal assistance offered by MASS CultivatED. Criminal records make it difficult for people to find jobs or housing, or participate in some volunteer opportunities.
“What we are doing is providing the services directly to impacted individuals from the war on drugs,” Dominguez said in an interview. “We focus on three main components of our core program. That is expungement, education, and employment opportunities.”