On April 20, 2020, Birmingham, Alabama Mayor Randall Woodfin announced his office would be issuing pardons for individuals previously convicted of Unlawful Possession of Marijuana in the Second Degree. These pardons will affect all individuals who were convicted between January 1, 1990 and December 31, 2020 and whose cases have been closed during that time. Mayor Woodfin’s executive action is part of his Pardons for Progress program and is expected to affect more than 15,000 individuals whose marijuana cases have been closed during the past 30 years.
Under Alabama law, Section 13A-12-214, Code of Alabama, 1975, entitled Unlawful Possession of Marijuana in the Second Degree, makes it a Class A misdemeanor to possess marijuana for personal use. Upon conviction, a person could receive a sentence of not more than 12 months in custody and a fine not to exceed $1000.
Birmingham Municipal Court is responsible for prosecuting all misdemeanor marijuana charges resulting from arrests by the Birmingham Police Department within the municipal limits of the City of Birmingham. Mayor Woodfin’s executive action is limited only to the City of Birmingham and does not affect misdemeanor marijuana convictions that occurred in Jefferson County or any of the surrounding municipalities located in Jefferson County.
Individuals with a single prior misdemeanor marijuana conviction will be eligible to receive a pardon under this program. Individuals with more than one prior misdemeanor marijuana conviction will not be eligible to receive a pardon under this program.
Although the Mayor’s Office will be issuing the pardons, the Birmingham Municipal Court will be responsible for locating all individuals eligible to receive a pardon and then processing those cases to reflect the pardon. Due to the large number of individuals affected by this executive action, the actual process of locating and processing the eligible cases is expected to take a considerable amount of time.
People who have also had a single prior conviction for misdemeanor Possession of Drug Paraphernalia are eligible to have that case pardoned under this program. Individuals with more than one (1) prior possession of drug paraphernalia conviction will not be eligible to receive a pardon under this program.
Individuals whose misdemeanor marijuana possession or drug paraphernalia possession charges are still pending in the Birmingham Municipal Court are not eligible to receive a pardon under this program. Similarly, individuals who have not completed all of the court ordered requirements to close their convictions will not be eligible for a pardon under this program.
The Mayor’s pardon only addresses the closed convictions and does not affect any associated fees, fines, or court costs due and owing in connection with the case. The failure to pay all outstanding fees, fines, or court costs as ordered by the Court will prevent a case from being closed and eligible for a pardon.
Mayor Woodfin’s Pardons for Progress program seeks to eliminate barriers to employment resulting from a single past mistake.