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Decriminalization of Say, Marijuana, is Not the Same as Making It Legal.

It was said better here by John Lounsbury:

But there is a potential compromise between the current "criminal" regime for using Marijuana, and making it totally legal. And that is "decriminalization."

A "decriminialized" act is called an infraction. It is still punishable, typically by a small fine, but is not totally illegal. "Speeding" for instance, is a "decriminalized' act. That is to say, it doesn't need to be prosecuted, people won't go to jail, it won't go on the police blotter, etc. At the same time, it's not totally accepted by society, so it is not "fully" legal, either, and there are consequences to pay.

Marijuana is not usually a good thing (except for medicinal purposes, which would be totally legal). On the other hand, it is no worse than smoking, which is not generally a crime, or drinking which is not by itself a crime, but could be an aggravating factor in one. As such, marijuana use is probably not worth prosecuting, but could be worth a few sanctions to discourage it..