Birmingham Mayor To Pardon Minor Marijuana Possession Convictions
still via Mayor Randall Woodfin video

On Wednesday, Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin announced on Twitter he would pardon anyone in the city who had been convicted of misdemeanor marijuana possession charges that occurred from April 20, 2021, until December 31, 2021. It would be a continuation of pardons he started the year before, where Woodfin pardoned about 15,000 people who had criminal convictions for possession of the drug from 1990 through 2020, according to the AL.com.

“I did it because it was the right thing to do,” Woodfin said.

The announcement came on April 20, or 4/20, the unofficial holiday for marijuana enthusiasts.   

In the Twitter video announcement, the 40-year-old mayor could be seen adorned in a bright yellow shirt with the words “Legalize Alabama” with a small cannabis leaf. “The Next Episode” by Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg playing in the background—a nice nod to the marijuana aficionado, as “smoke weed everyday” literally closes out the song.

Eighteen states have legalized marijuana, he said, and 39 others have made some form of medical marijuana legal.

“It’s past time for the state of Alabama to catch up,’’ Woodfin said. “This has an impact on not only young people but anybody who needs and deserves a second chance.”

While there has been much legislation to legalize and decriminalize marijuana and even attempts at equitable advancement for Latino and Black people in the cannabis industry—as they are disproportionately criminalized for possession—there has not been a rush for pardons or early-releases for past convictions nationally.

Mayor Woodfin ended the video by asking that those in the state and federal government work to legalize marijuana.

“I want to encourage other mayors across the state to do the same thing I’ve done. Use your pardon power to exercise giving people a second change,’’ he said. “I want to encourage those in the state as well as the federal government, do the right thing and legalize marijuana.”

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