de·​crim·​i·​nal·​ize | \ (ˌ)dē-ˈkri-mə-nə-ˌlīz How to pronounce decriminalize (audio) , -ˈkrim-nəl-\
decriminalized; decriminalizing; decriminalizes

Definition of decriminalize

transitive verb

: to remove or reduce the criminal classification or status of especially : to repeal a strict ban on while keeping under some form of regulation decriminalize the possession of marijuana

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Other Words from decriminalize

decriminalization \ (ˌ)dē-​ˌkri-​mə-​nə-​lə-​ˈzā-​shən How to pronounce decriminalization (audio) , -​ˌkrim-​nəl-​ \ noun

Examples of decriminalize in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web

Sanders wants to legalize marijuana, while Warren favors decriminalizing it. Zak Hudak, CBS News, "Elizabeth Warren releases plan to reduce mass incarceration rates in U.S.," 20 Aug. 2019 In May, Denver voted to decriminalize all possession, use, and growth of hallucinogenic mushrooms. Olivia Goldhill, Quartz, "Oregonian activists are laying the legal groundwork for therapeutic magic mushrooms," 16 Aug. 2019 Cincinnati City Council voted to decriminalize marijuana possession on June 11, allowing people 18 and older to possess up to 100 grams of marijuana without fear of fines or prosecution. Maia Anderson,, "New marijuana law takes effect in Cincinnati: What to know," 10 July 2019 The sweepstakes devices were essentially legalized in 2013, when some of the same lawmakers who shepherded the state’s latest bet on gambling expansion pushed legislation through the General Assembly to decriminalize them. Jason Grotto, ProPublica, "Illinois Is Poised to Become the Gambling Capital of the Midwest," 10 June 2019 Last week, the Oakland, California city council voted unanimously to decriminalize a range of psychedelic plants, including mushrooms and cacti. Matt Simon, WIRED, "The Heady, Thorny Journey to Decriminalize Magic Mushrooms," 10 June 2019 On Tuesday, Oakland's City Council voted unanimously to decriminalize the use of 'shrooms and other natural psychedelic or hallucinogenic drugs, including cacti, becoming the second city in the country to take this step. Leah Asmelash And Saeed Ahmed, CNN, "Oakland residents won't be busted for using 'magic mushrooms' and other psychedelic drugs," 5 June 2019 Image: Wikimedia Commons Oakland City Council has voted to decriminalize psychedelics that come from plants and fungi, including magic mushrooms. Jon Porter, The Verge, "Oakland becomes second US city to decriminalize magic mushrooms," 5 June 2019 Three months after Denver voters decriminalized psychedelic mushrooms, there are no signs yet of broader public health effects — but therapists are here to deal with traumatic trips. Jessica Seaman, The Denver Post, "Checkup Denver: Planned Parenthood leaves federal Title X program, mystery vaping-related illness and more Colorado health news," 26 Aug. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'decriminalize.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of decriminalize

1969, in the meaning defined above

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Statistics for decriminalize

Last Updated

18 Sep 2019

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Time Traveler for decriminalize

The first known use of decriminalize was in 1969

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English Language Learners Definition of decriminalize

: to make (something that is illegal) legal by changing the law


transitive verb
de·​crim·​i·​nal·​ize | \ dē-ˈkri-mən-ᵊl-ˌīz How to pronounce decriminalize (audio) \
decriminalized; decriminalizing

Legal Definition of decriminalize

: to remove or reduce the criminal classification or status of

Other Words from decriminalize

decriminalization \ dē-​ˌkri-​mən-​ᵊl-​ə-​ˈzā-​shən How to pronounce decriminalization (audio) \ noun

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Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with decriminalize

Nglish: Translation of decriminalize for Spanish Speakers

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miscellaneous remnants or debris

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