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Birmingham Mayor Issues 15,000 Pardons To People Convicted of Small Marijuana Possessions In Honor of 4/20

Birmingham Mayor Issues 15,000 Pardons To People Convicted of Small Marijuana Possessions In Honor of 4/20

One small step for Alabama, one large step for mankind!

The Mayor of Birmingham issued 15,000 pardons to people convicted of small marijuana possessions in honor of 4/20, Blavity reports.

Mayor Randall Woodfin celebrated 4/20, the holiday reserved in honor of marijuana, in a big way, issuing blanket pardons for individuals who have been convicted of misdemeanor marijuana possessions within the last three decades. 

The Birmingham, Alabama Mayor pardoned 15,000 people, while also advocating for support of the total decriminalization of marijuana in the state of Alabama via a petition he shared on Twitter. The move is an extension of the work of Birmingham’s Pardons for Progress Initiative, which aims to pardon offenses extending to closed cases within the Birmingham Municipal Court. 

“Today, I issued a pardon of 15,000 people convicted of marijuana possession in Birmingham between 1990-2020. These pardons are a strong start, but our work is far from done. Join me in telling the State of Alabama to completely decriminalize marijuana,” Woodfin wrote. 

According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, the state of Alabama spent more than $20 million in 2016 criminalizing marijuana possession. The study also showed that Black people “were four times more likely to be arrested for possession, despite using at similar rates,” as other ethnicities. If decriminalized, those funds can be redistributed to “funding Pre-K classrooms, school teachers and Medicaid coverage for children.”

Pardons for Progress does not cover fees, fines or other costs connected to the cases in the process of issuing pardons. The initiative extends only to prior closed convictions for Unlawful Possession of Marijuana, 2nd degree and Class A misdemeanor Possession of Drug Paraphernalia if it is connected to the marijuana possession case. The initiative was introduced in 2019 as a way to boost employment rates among ex-offenders.

“Here’s why we’re doing this - no one should be held up by a single past mistake. No one should be denied job opportunities or freedoms due to missteps from the past...They deserve a chance to be part of our workforce, to provide for their families and to achieve success on their own. That new life starts right here, today, with forgiveness and redemption,” Woodfin said. 

Alabama Democrats Chair Rep. Chris England also extended his support for Woodfin’s initiative, saying, “Nearly 100 years of marijuana prohibition and criminalization has trapped thousands of Alabamians, mostly Black, in our broken criminal justice system. Reforming policy surrounding cannabis not only serves our state in producing hundreds of millions of dollars in revenues, but is an important step in reducing arrests and expunging records. Nobody should be sitting in jail for carrying a little bit of weed.”

Mayor Woodfin’s goal is to boost the economy and put the city’s money where it needs to be, instead of wasting it on criminalizing marijuana users. 

“Alabama spends millions of dollars annually keeping people locked up for possessing marijuana. Not only could Alabama save this money, but could also bring in hundreds of millions of dollars in tax revenue, thousands of jobs, and opportunities for farmers and entrepreneurs in Alabama to thrive in a new business market,” Woodfin said.

Thank you, Mayor Woodfin! Because of you, we can!

Photo Courtesy of Paras Griffin/Blavity