Bham pardons 15,000+ people for single marijuana possession convictions

Pardons for Progress
Mayor Woodfin introduces the Pardons for Progress initative in November 2019. Photo via Pat Byington for Bham Now

Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin released a statement announcing a blanket pardon for individuals with closed single marijuana possession convictions in the city of Birmingham between 1990 and 2020. This action will pardon more than 15,000 people simultaneously.

The Mayor’s declaration is part of his Pardons for Progress initiative, which only addresses a prior closed conviction of “Unlawful Possession of Marijuana, 2nd Degree” (Class A misdemeanor) in Birmingham Municipal Court.  

Pardons for Progress – A Second Chance

Birmingham City Hall
Birmingham City Hall. Photo by Pat Byington for Bham Now

So why is this announcement such a big deal? For Woodfin it is clearly about jobs and giving people a 2nd chance. Back in 2019, when the the mayor launched the Pardons for Progress initiative, at that  initial press conference, Bham Now producer Nathan Watson captured the mayor’s intentions and purpose for the program this way:


“Even before he came into office, Randall Woodfin met people every day who struggled to find employment due to a prior marijuana conviction on their record. Over the years, thousands of individuals have been convicted of misdemeanor marijuana charges in Birmingham. Since a marijuana possession conviction appears on a background check, even a single conviction can eliminate employment opportunities. 

In order to give people a second chance, Mayor Woodfin and the City of Birmingham started the Pardons for Progress initiative.

Call for Statewide Decriminalize Marijuana 

Alabama Capitol
State Capitol in Montgomery. Photo via Pat Byington for Bham Now

After the release of the pardon announcement, Woodfin also took to Twitter calling for the decriminalization of marijuana statewide. Here is the tweet:

Meanwhile below is the Mayor’s statement: 

A statement from Mayor Randall Woodfin:

Many of you may know of our Pardons for Progress program, where residents previously convicted of Unlawful Possession of Marijuana during the past 20 years can apply for a pardon.

Today, I’m so happy to announce blanket pardons for those with closed marijuana possession convictions in the city between 1990 and 2020. This will pardon more than 15,000 individuals simultaneously.

For clarity, Pardons for Progress only addresses a prior closed conviction of Unlawful Possession of Marijuana, 2nd Degree (Class A misdemeanor) in Birmingham Municipal Court.

Pardons for Progress is for closed cases only. Open cases must be resolved in court and will not be considered. Neither does this consider potential 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 workforce, to provide for their families and to achieve success on their own.

That new life starts rights here, today, with forgiveness and redemption.

No action is needed by the individual for this blanket pardon.

This pardon addresses the closed conviction only and not any associated fees, fines or costs connected to the case.

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Pat Byington
Pat Byington

Longtime conservationist. Former Executive Director at the Alabama Environmental Council and Wild South. Publisher of the Bama Environmental News for more than 18 years. Career highlights include playing an active role in the creation of Alabama's Forever Wild program, Little River Canyon National Preserve, Dugger Mountain Wilderness, preservation of special places throughout the East through the Wilderness Society and the strengthening (making more stringent) the state of Alabama's cancer risk and mercury standards.

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