Are you thinking of drugs? In that context, legalization would be the removal of all criminal penalties, i.e., legalizing marijuana would mean there would be no criminal penalties for possession, sale, distribution, etc. Marijuana could still be regulated by the government, in a way similar to the way alcohol or cigarettes are regulated.
Decriminalization is about removing criminal penalties for some behaviors while retaining penalties for others. Again in the context of drugs, decriminalizing marijuana might mean eliminating criminal penalties for possession of a certain amount, or for possession for personal use, while retaining criminal penalties for distribution, sales, etc. Again, the non-criminal use can be regulated by the government, with "violations" rather than crimes, which are penalized with fines.
How can this happen? It could be legislated on the state or the federal level. If it is legislated on the state level, which laws prevail will be determined by ensuing lawsuits. I live in California, where some marijuana use has been legalized by voters through the referendum process.
I didn't notice before you're in the Bay, so I'd guess you're familiar with 215. Sorry!
Last edited by mariposita; 06-18-2007 at 04:13 PM.