Birmingham, Alabama Mayor Randall Woodfin on Tuesday announced the city will issue blanket pardons for more than 15,000 misdemeanor cannabis convictions dating back to 1990. The action will cover closed convictions for second-degree unlawful possession of marijuana adjudicated in Birmingham Municipal Court but does not include open nor future cases.
“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. No longer will these residents be bound to their past. They deserve a chance to be part of our work force, to provide for their families and to achieve success on their own. That new life starts rights here, today, with forgiveness and redemption.” – Woodfin in a press release
The announcement comes as the state Democratic Party said it would support medical and adult-use cannabis reforms in the state.
State Rep. Chris England, the state Democratic Party chair, said that legalization would not only serve the state “in producing hundreds of millions of dollars in revenues but is an important step in reducing arrests and expunging records.”
“Nearly 100 years of marijuana prohibition and criminalization has trapped thousands of Alabamians, mostly Black, in our broken criminal justice system,” he said in a statement. “Nobody should be sitting in jail for carrying a little bit of weed.”
England said the bill to legalize medical cannabis in the state – which has already passed the Senate – is “a good first step” but urged lawmakers to legalize cannabis for adult use before other Deep South states, such as Georgia and Mississippi.
“We can’t afford to let this opportunity go to another state in our region,” he said in an interview with AL.com.
The medical cannabis bill is expected to get a vote by the full House this session.
Last month, Virginia became the first southern state to approve broad cannabis reforms.
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