Since 1996, over 75% of states in the USA have redeveloped their policies on cannabis legislation. In 2021, that means that most states either have legal or decriminalized cannabis for recreational or medical use.

The differences between legalization and decriminalization are vast and dictate how authorities handle the possession, sale, and consumption of cannabis products.

Check out the following guide if you don’t know what the difference between legalized and decriminalized cannabis means for your marijuana consumption.


When a state legalizes cannabis, eligible patients can purchase cannabis legally from a recreational or medical cannabis dispensary in Englewood, CO, or wherever they are located. Legalization means that there are no civil or criminal penalties for customers who purchase or use marijuana products as well as for those who sell them.

Once purchased, cannabis products can be used on private property without the fear of severe legal repercussions.

However, legalized cannabis does have limitations on how much cannabis an individual can purchase at one time, depending on whether they are a recreational or medical user.

Additionally, some states only have legalized cannabis for medical purposes, so users will need to visit a medical professional to obtain a license to purchase cannabis for their health issues.


Unlike legalization, decriminalization doesn’t remove penalties for purchasing, possessing, or selling marijuana products. However, instead of steep penalties or jail time, those caught with cannabis in states where it is decriminalized face only a small fine depending on the amount they have.

Furthermore, if you live in a state where cannabis is decriminalized, you might not face severe penalties even if you are caught with large amounts of cannabis on your property.

medical cannabis dispensary in Englewood, CO

However, harsher punishments can be given to those found guilty of selling cannabis products in states where it’s been decriminalized.