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Biden Pardons Thousands Convicted of Marijuana Charges; So Did Birmingham Mayor Woodfin

Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin. (FILE)

By Keisa Sharpe-Jefferson

The Birmingham Times

Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin on Friday supported President Joe Biden’s pardons for those convicted of use and possession of marijuana.

It’s similar to a move Woodfin made in 2022 when he pardoned nearly 15,000 people who had been convicted for marijuana possession between 1990 and 2020.

“I applaud President Biden’s decision to pardon thousands for federal marijuana possession convictions,” Woodfin told the Birmingham Times. “This move mirrors our efforts in Birmingham, where we’ve pardoned thousands for minor marijuana possession, breaking down barriers and fostering fairness in our justice system.”

Woodfin followed up on his move in 2022 and granted pardons to any Birmingham resident who had a misdemeanor for marijuana possession.

The mayor said then, “It’s high time we address these outdated policies that have disproportionately impacted communities of color. This is a step toward rectifying past injustices and making our justice system more equitable.”

Biden administration announced on Friday that thousands of people are eligible for parole who were convicted of use and simple possession of marijuana on federal lands and in the District of Columbia.

Biden his administration is (making) right some wrongs. “Too many lives have been upended because of our failed approach to marijuana. It’s time that we right these wrongs,” he said.

“Criminal records for marijuana use and possession have imposed needless barriers to employment, housing, and educational opportunities,” said Biden, adding that previous actions have been a “failed approach.”

According to the Biden administration, these efforts are the latest round of executive clemencies meant to rectify racial disparities in the justice system.

The pardon Friday adds onto another round issued in 2022 that made thousands convicted of simple possession on federal lands eligible for pardons.

Biden’s order applies only to marijuana, which has been decriminalized or legalized in many states for some or all uses, but remains a controlled substance under federal law.

For those in the U.S. unlawfully at the time of their offense, the pardon doesn’t apply.

Updated at 9:31 a.m. on 12/23/2023 to correct year of Mayor Woodfin’s pardons.