Colorado Amendment 44

Amendment 44 was a proposed amendment to the state statutes submitted for referendum in the 2006 general elections in the U.S. state of Colorado. The amendment proposed the legalization of the possession of one ounce or less of marijuana for any person twenty-one years of age and over, as long as marijuana use does not occur in public. The measure was eventually defeated at the polls by 60-40 percent.[2]

Amendment 44
An Amendment to Section 18-18-406 (1) of the Colorado Revised Statutes Making Legal the Possession of One Ounce or Less of Marijuana For Any Person Twenty-one Years of Age or Older
Votes %
Yes 636,938 41.08%
No 913,411 58.92%
Amendment failed[1]


Amendment 44 was placed on the ballot in August, after the group Safer Alternative For Enjoyable Recreation (SAFER) obtained over 129,000 petition signatures through a largely grassroots organization. Only 68,000 were required by the Secretary of State.

Existing Colorado law classifies possession of one ounce or less of marijuana as a Class 2 petty offense punishable by a fine of $100. If passed, Amendment 44 would decriminalize possession of one ounce or less by adults 21 years of age and over by removing any fine or penalty; although, it would have no effect on the cultivation, transfer, or sale of marijuana.

Controversy over Colorado Blue BookEdit

One issue under contention is how the amendment might be interpreted with regard to transferral of marijuana to minors over 15 years of age. The "Blue Book" voter information pamphlet, a comprehensive guide to ballot measures distributed to voters, states "transferring up to one ounce of marijuana to another individual 15 years of age or older as long as there is no compensation" would be decriminalized under Amendment 44.[3] Others, including the amendment's supporters, claim this interpretation is false, and such transferral to minors would continue to be illegal, as it falls under the category of contributing to the delinquency of a minor, a felony offense under existing law.[4][5]



Groups in favor of Amendment 44 include Sensible Colorado, a group favoring the legalization, regulation, and taxation of marijuana much in the same manner as alcohol.,[6] the state Libertarian Party,[7] and the US Marijuana Party, among others.

Supporters argue that the War on Drugs has failed, resulting in the empowerment of organized crime, and that a new more effective policy is needed. It is argued that legalizing small amounts of marijuana would free law enforcement resources to deal with more serious offenses. Some supporters also consider marijuana to be less harmful then other types of illegal narcotics, alcoholic beverages or tobacco use.[8]


Groups opposing Amendment 44 include Guarding Our Children Against Marijuana (GOCAM), Drug Watch Colorado, and Students Against Marijuana, among others.[8]

Opponents argue that marijuana serves as a gateway drug to other types of illegal narcotics, and that legalization of marijuana would increase other types of drug use and make the state a magnet for addicts; however, there is no evidence marijuana is a gateway drug.[9][10][11][12] It is argued that as with alcohol, sobriety is the only safe alternative, and existing drug laws should be enforced. Opponents also state that the costs of enforcement are minimal compared to the costs of drug addiction and treatment, as well as the fact that legalization at the state level would not affect federal laws and international treaties concerning marijuana.[8]

Some employees of the Drug Enforcement Administration were reported to have been financing opposition to Amendment 44, a move which generated significant controversy.[13]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Colorado 2006 > Ballot Measures > Amendment 44: Legalize Marijuana from
  2. ^ "Ballot Measures: Colorado Amendment 44". CNN. Retrieved 2007-03-20.
  3. ^ "Analysis of the 2006 Ballot proposals" (PDF). Colorado Legislative Council. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2007-02-06. Retrieved 2007-03-23. External link in |publisher= (help)
  4. ^ "Ambushing the pot initiative". Rocky Mountain News. Archived from the original on 2006-10-17. Retrieved 2006-10-05.
  5. ^ "Up in Smoke?". Fort Collins Weekly.
  6. ^ "Colorado Marijuana Initiative". Sensible Colorado. Archived from the original on 2005-02-05. Retrieved 2006-09-07.
  7. ^ "Ending the game of Marijuana prohibition in Colorado" (PDF). Sensible Colorado. Libertarian Party of Colorado. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2006-09-06. Retrieved 2006-09-07.
  8. ^ a b c "Amendment 44 Marijuana Possession" (PDF). Colorado Ballot Analysis, Final Draft. Colorado General Assembly. Retrieved 2006-09-07.
  9. ^ "Evaluating alternative cannabis regimes" (PDF). British Journal of Psychiatry. 2001. Retrieved 2007-03-31. External link in |journal= (help)
  10. ^ Jennifer McNulty (2004-05-03). "Dutch drug policies do not increase marijuana use, first rigorous comparative study finds". UC Santa Cruz Currants. Archived from the original on 2007-03-11. Retrieved 2007-03-20. External link in |publisher= (help)
  11. ^ Reinarman C, Cohen PD, Kaal HL (2004). "The Limited Relevance of Drug Policy: Cannabis in Amsterdam and in San Francisco" (PDF). American Journal of Public Health. 94: 836–42. doi:10.2105/ajph.94.5.836. PMC 1448346. PMID 15117709. Retrieved 2007-03-20.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  12. ^ "Marijuana and Medicine: Assessing the Science Base". National Academies Press. 1999. Retrieved 2007-03-30.
  13. ^ "DEA should keep out of state politics". Rocky Mountain News. 2006-08-30. Archived from the original on 2006-09-01. Retrieved 2006-09-07.