As more and more states are decriminalizing and legalizing marijuana, either in medical or recreational forms, perhaps you've stumbled upon these terms and wondered what it all means. Some states are legalizing. Some are decriminalizing. What's the difference?
When a substance is legalized, it means that a once-banned substance is now completely legal under state and federal laws. All prohibitions are removed! It is completely acceptable in the eyes of the law and all penalties are removed.
When a substance is decriminalized, it means that the once-banned substance is still prohibited by law, but the legal system will no longer prosecute or criminalize a person for carrying that substance. However, there can still be penalties, such as fines.
Yeah but, what does that mean?
In short, you still need to be careful and cautious when commuting a decriminalized act, unless of course you have a permit or a license, which only some folks can afford. Shouldn't this beneficial plant medicine be made available to everyone? This is why most cannabis advocates push for legalization.
It's no secret that the drug laws in the United States disproportionately affect people of color. While white and black people use marijuana at almost the same rate, black people are four times more likely than white to be arrested for marijuana possession.
It's also no secret that there is a huge wealth gap in our country and that once again, black people and people of color are disproportionately affected by this. It's hard to pay for your medical marijuana card when you're still struggling to make other financial ends meet.
So when decriminalization still has financial penalties, it's clear that it only benefits some folks and not all. Marginalized communities would still suffer dire consequences for minor drug possession in a decriminalized world.
This is why we push for LEGALIZATION!