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Buttonstc's avatar

What's the difference between legalization and decriminalization?

Asked by Buttonstc (27605points) August 25th, 2015 from iPhone

Are they the same? If not, what do you think distinguishes one from the other.?

Is it a distinction without a meaningful difference?

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6 Answers

talljasperman's avatar

Decriminalization is that you get a fine but no jail time. Legalization is that you don’t get a fine or jail time .

zenvelo's avatar

To quote Steve Martin back in the 70s- “don’t smoke marijuana in California, you could get a ticket for that!”.

Decriminalization makes it an infraction.

Strauss's avatar

Decriminalization is the process by which something that is illegal becomes less illegal. Legalization is the process by which something that is illegal becomes legal.

Example. Several states in the US have legalized marijuana for medical use and in some states for recreational use. Even though it is highly regulated, and infraction of those regulations can carry stiff penalties, it is still legal, much like tobacco or cigarettes, in those states.

However, on a federal (US) level, sale or production of marijuana is considered a felony, and can lead to jail time, up to life in prison for sale of 1000 kg. If the federal government were to tone down the penalties, or decide not to prosecute some minor infractions, that would be decriminalization, that is, making it “less illegal”.

stanleybmanly's avatar

On a practical level, decriminalization means your dope might be confiscated, but you won’t do time or be prosecuted.

JLeslie's avatar

In my mind to decriminalize is to eliminate any legal
punishment for an act. It’s short of actually making it legal, but it also is saying you don’t have to worry about the law coming after you.

I assume there is a legal definition for it, but I didn’t take the time to google it.

MollyMcGuire's avatar

Decriminalization means that it is not even a misdemeanor, it’s an infraction like a parking ticket; you pay a fine and you do not incur a criminal record. Legalization is means you may openly do or not do the subject activity.

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