Birmingham Mayor Blazes a New Trail with Pardons for Progress

Last week Mayor Randall L. Woodfin of Birmingham, AL blazed the trail for mass pardons of cannabis convictions making 4/20 an even better day for the estimated 15,000 individuals who will have their cases pardoned.

In an exclusive interview with The Root’s Michael Harriot, Mayor Woodfin explained that anyone convicted of misdemeanor marijuana possession may apply for a pardon and have the conviction sealed under Progress for Pardons.

Pardons for Progress started in 2019 as an initiative that provides pardons for individuals previously convicted in the City of Birmingham Municipal Court. Specifically on a single Unlawful Possession of Marijuana, 2nd Degree, (Class A misdemeanor) charge. And, this applies only to cases from the Birmingham Municipal Court.


After fewer than 20 people, many from outside the municipality, signed up for the project, the mayor initiated a campaign involving media interviews, town hall meetings, and a direct mail blitz to educate residents about the program, but to no avail.

Undaunted, the mayor decided that he had only one choice remaining.

Woodfin told The Root, “Instead of asking people to come to us for help, I decided to take it to the people. So that’s what we did.”

And indeed he did.

Please take a moment to read a summary of Mayor Woodfin’s statement below:

Pardons for Progress

Today Birmingham pardons 15,000 people convicted of marijuana possession from 1990 to 2020.

Mayor Woodfin strongly states, “No one should be held up by a single past mistake.”

“No longer will these residents be bound to their past,” the mayor says. “They deserve a chance to be part of our workforce,” he adds.

“That new life starts rights here, today, with forgiveness and redemption,” Woodfin adds.

“No action is needed by the individual for this pardon,” he says.

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


Read Mayor Randall L. Woodfin’s entire statement and find out more about the Pardons for Progress Initiative at

Support Mayor Randall L. Woodfin’s Petition to decriminalize cannabis at