Decriminalization Law & Legal Definition


Decriminalization is the legislative repeal or amendment of statutes which made certain acts criminal, so that those acts no longer are ilegal. Many states have decriminalized certain sexual practices between consenting adults, loitering, or laws against marriage or cohabitation between people of different races.

There has been a recent movement for the decriminalization of the use of some narcotics (particularly marijuana) by adults. Medical marijuana use is legal in certain areas when prescribed for medical purposes. Proponents suggest that decriminalization has several beneficial consequences, including budgetary savings for state and local governments, improved welfare for marijuana users, and an improved allocation of criminal justice resources. Opponents suggest that decriminalization produces a substantial increase in marijuana use along with increased crime and other negative effects.

Some crimes which have been decriminalized in at least some parts of the world include sodomy, homosexuality, paganism, abortion, suicide and prostitution. in 1979, marijuana was decriminalized in eleven states of the United States. Canada decriminalized suicide and attempted suicide in 1972. Abortion was decriminalized in the U.S. in 1973 with the decision of Roe v. Wade.