Alabama Pardons Over 15 Thousand Marijuana Records

Birmingham Alabama has pardoned over 15,000 people with misdemeanors surrounding marijuana, in an effort to remove barriers to their employability.

With over 200,000 residents, Birmingham is the most populous city in Alabama, and on 4/20, the Major of the city Randall Woodfin pardoned over 15,000 cannabis convictions.

The pardons will occur automatically and will occur for those with misdemeanor marijuana convictions in an effort to boost their employability.

"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," said the Mayor at the time of the announcement.

In some cases, the marijuana misdemeanors date back to 1990, meaning that there is a 30-year span on those whose records will be pardoned.

Mayor Woodfin's pot pardons follow a spate of other States doing the same, including Illinois, Arizona, and New York, who either pardoned or expunged cannabis-related criminal records in an effort to redress the harmful impacts of the War on Drugs.

A pardon effectively means prior crimes are forgiven, while an expungement is to erase the fact that the crimes ever occurred.

Alabama's pot pardons could be indicative of a changing mindset in the highly conservative state, which also recently legalized medical marijuana. With New York, Virginia and New Jersey having just legalized recreational marijuana, and New Mexico looking poised to do the same, it's likely that we will continue to see shifting perceptions toward the cannabis industry as it generates enormous revenues in tax, while freeing up law enforcement from enforcing petty drug crimes.

And, as we've just passed 4/20, it's likely that the states that have legalized adult use cannabis will begin to report on their boosted cannabis revenues, adding further incentive for other states to follow suit.

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Louis O'Neill
Louis O'Neill

Louis is a writer based in Sydney with a focus on social and political issues. Having interviewed local politicians and entrepreneurs, Louis now focuses on cannabis culture, legislation & reform.