Colorado Obsolete Alcohol Constitutional Provisions, Referendum N (2008)

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The Colorado Obsolete Alcohol Constitutional Provisions Referendum, also known as the Referendum N, was on the November 2008 ballot in Colorado as a legislatively-referred constitutional amendment, where it was approved.[1] The measure amended the Colorado Constitution to eliminate obsolete constitutional provisions regarding intoxicating liquor. It passed in the state legislature as House Concurrent Resolution 08-1008.[2][3]

Election results

Colorado Referendum N (2008)
Approveda Yes 1,449,383 68.75%

Election results via: The Colorado Secretary of State

Text of measure

The language appeared on the ballot as:[3][4]

Shall there be a repeal of section 5 of article XVIII and article XXII of the state constitution, concerning the elimination of outdated obsolete provisions of the state constitution?[5]

Full text

The full text of the bill that was approved by Referendum N was:

SECTION 1. At the next election at which such question may be submitted, there shall be submitted to the registered electors of the state of Colorado, for their approval or rejection, the following amendment to the constitution of the state of Colorado, to wit: Section 5 of article XVIII of the constitution of the state of Colorado is repealed as follows:

Section 5. Spurious and drugged liquors - laws concerning. The general assembly shall prohibit by law the importation into this state, for the purpose of sale, of any spurious, poisonous or drugged spirituous liquors, or spirituous liquors adulterated with any poisonous or deleterious substance, mixture, or compound; and shall prohibit the compounding or manufacture within this state, except for chemical or mechanical purposes, of any of said liquors, whether they be denominated spirituous, vinous, malt or otherwise; and shall also prohibit the sale of any such liquors to be used as a beverage, and any violation of either of said prohibitions shall be punished by fine and imprisonment. The general assembly shall provide by law for the condemnation and destruction of all spurious, poisonous or drugged liquors herein prohibited.

Article XXII of the constitution of the state of Colorado is repealed as follows:


Intoxicating Liquors

Section 1. Repeal of intoxicating liquor laws. The manufacture, sale and distribution of all intoxicating liquors, wholly within the state of Colorado, shall, subject to the constitution and laws of the United States, be performed exclusively by or through such agencies and under such regulations as may hereafter be provided by statutory laws of the state of Colorado; but no such laws shall ever authorize the establishment or maintenance of any saloon.

SECTION 2. Each elector voting at said election and desirous of voting for or against said amendment shall cast a vote as provided by law either "Yes" or "No" on the proposition: "SHALL THERE BE A REPEAL OF SECTION 5 OF ARTICLE XVIII AND ARTICLE XXII OF THE STATE CONSTITUTION, CONCERNING THE ELIMINATION OF OUTDATED OBSOLETE PROVISIONS OF THE STATE CONSTITUTION?"

SECTION 3. The votes cast for the adoption or rejection of said amendment shall be canvassed and the result determined in the manner provided by law for the canvassing of votes for representatives in Congress, and if a majority of the electors voting on the question shall have voted "Yes," the said amendment shall become a part of the state constitution. [4][5]

Specific Provisions

The measure eliminated language concerning the outdated ban on importing, manufacturing and selling tainted alcohol, which dates back to the original Colorado Constitution of 1876, and the era of tainted moonshine. This provision was no longer in use, and only served to clutter the current constitution.[2]


Sponsors of the measure included:

Supporters argued that these provisions were outdated. The state still had the authority to regulate alcoholic beverages, and the quality of alcoholic beverages was regulated by the federal government, so it was no longer Colorado's responsibility.


Opponents said the provisions had historical significance and were from an interesting period of Colorado's history. They said that removing this from the Constitution would strip it of some of its historical character. They also worried that removing the provision would hamper future research of past laws and provisions.

See also

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