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

In May, Denver decriminalized the use of hallucinogenic magic mushrooms, becoming the first city in the U.S. to do so. Colleen Shalby,, "Oakland becomes 2nd U.S. city to decriminalize magic mushrooms," 5 June 2019 Illinois Possession of small amounts of marijuana has been decriminalized in Illinois, and Cook County voters specifically want cannabis to be legalized and regulated. Meredith Clark, Marie Claire, "Is CBD Even Legal Where You Live?," 12 Apr. 2019 Now, states and countries are trying to find a better way to deal with the drug — allowing it for medical use in some cases, decriminalizing it in others, or outright legalizing it. Vox, "Marijuana legalization, explained," 15 Nov. 2018 Homosexuality was only decriminalized in the conservative, Eastern European nation as Romania prepared to join the EU in 2002. NBC News, "Gay couples merit European Union residency rights, court adviser says," 11 Jan. 2018 State lawmakers in Washington have made progress on a bill that would decriminalize teen sexting, KIRO 7 reported. Lucy Diavolo, Teen Vogue, "Washington State Lawmakers Are Advancing a Bill Decriminalizing Teen Sexting," 7 Mar. 2019 Additionally, Marijuana Moment reports that five different cities in Ohio voted to decriminalize pot, potentially paving way for a future ballot measure in favor of statewide adult recreational use. Danielle Corcione, Teen Vogue, "Three States Approved Legal Marijuana During Midterm Elections," 7 Nov. 2018 Florida has legalized medical marijuana but hasn’t legalized or decriminalized recreational use. Aaron Rupar, Vox, "Fox News warns about THC gummies “ruining families” and “killing” Americans “every day.”," 3 Dec. 2018 Washington, Oregon, California, Nevada, Colorado, Alaska, Massachusetts, Vermont, Maine and the District of Columbia have broadly legalized cannabis, while others have either decriminalized usage or have legalized it only for medicinal purposes. Madeline Farber, Fox News, "Wyoming Highway Patrol officials seize more than $7M worth of marijuana during traffic stop," 30 Aug. 2018

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

12 Jun 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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behavior toward others

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