Colorado Marijuana Possession, Initiative 44 (2006)

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The Colorado Marijuana Possession Initiative, also known as Initiative 44, was on the November 7, 2006 ballot in Colorado as an initiated state statute, where it was defeated.The measure would have made it legal for individuals 21 years of age and older to possess up to one ounce of marijuana. Federal laws against marijuana would have remained in effect, and federal law enforcement officials would still have been able to enforce federal drug laws in Colorado.[1]

Election results

Colorado Initiative 44 (2006)
Defeatedd No913,41158.92%
Yes 636,938 41.08%

Election results via:Colorado Secretary of State Elections Department.

Text of measure

The language appeared on the ballot as:[1][2]

An amendment to section 18-18-406 (1) of the Colorado revised statutes making legal the possession of one ounce or less of marihuana for any person twenty-one years of age or older.[3]

Summary and analysis

The Colorado Legislative Council is charged with providing a summary and analysis of each measure on the Colorado ballot. ("The state constitution requires that the nonpartisan research staff of the General Assembly prepare these analyses and distribute them in a ballot information booklet to registered voter households.")

To describe Amendment 44, they said:

Individuals who grow, transfer, possess, sell, or consume marijuana violate federal, state and, in some cases, local laws. Amendment 44 addresses state law for possession only; enforcement of other marijuana laws would not change.

State possession law. Under state law, any person who possesses one ounce or less of marijuana commits a Class 2 petty offense, which is punishable by a fine of up to $100. State courts convicted 3,700 adults for possession of one ounce or less of marijuana in the 2005 state budget year, the most recent data available. This number does not include convictions in municipal courts, which also hear some marijuana possession cases.

Amendment 44 allows adults 21 years of age or older to possess up to one ounce of marijuana. Possession would include consumption or use, as long as it does not occur in public. It also would include transferring up to one ounce of marijuana to another individual 15 years of age or older as long as there is no compensation, although possession for those under 21 years of age would remain illegal.

Other marijuana offenses. The following marijuana offenses will continue to be illegal under state law if Amendment 44 passes:

  • for individuals under 21 years of age, possessing any amount of marijuana;
  • possessing more than one ounce of marijuana;
  • for individuals 18 years of age and older, transferring any amount of marijuana to a person under 15 years of age;
  • growing or selling marijuana;
  • open and public display, use, or consumption of marijuana; and
  • driving under the influence of marijuana.

Fiscal impact

See also: Fiscal impact statement

The fiscal estimate provided by the Colorado Legislative Council said:

Amendment 44 may reduce state and local government revenues because fines would no longer be assessed for adult marijuana possession of one ounce or less. The amount of the revenue reduction cannot be quantified because the total number of individuals convicted annually for possessing one ounce or less of marijuana is not known. The state collects data for convictions in state courts but not municipal courts. In addition, judges have discretion when assessing fines, and the maximum fine is not levied against all offenders. Also, some fines cannot be collected from the person convicted.


"Yes on 44" website logo, from the (archived) "Safer Colorado" website


Groups supporting Amendment 44 included:

  • The Alcohol-Marijuana Equalization Initiative Committee
  • Safer Colorado.Org
  • Guarding Our Children Against Marijuana Prohibition.

Arguments in favor

Supporters argued that:

  • "Amendment 44 strikes a balance between individual choice and public safety. State law allows adults 21 years of age and older to possess and consume alcohol, but prohibits the possession and use of marijuana. To the extent that some adults believe that using marijuana is a safer alternative to consuming alcohol, possession of a small quantity of marijuana should be a personal and legal choice for adults."
  • "Amendment 44 presents a sensible change in priorities without jeopardizing public safety. The proposal could free overburdened state and local criminal justice systems from expending public resources on petty offenders, and allow these systems to target their resources on the manufacturers, distributors, and traffickers of illegal drugs. At a time when government budgets for law enforcement and court systems are strained, focusing resources on more serious offenses is logical for taxpayers."[4]



Groups opposing the measure included:

  • Students Against Marijuana
  • Guarding Our Children Against Marijuana
  • Drug Free Schools Coalition of Colorado
  • Save Our Society from Drugs
  • Colorado Elks To Stop 44
  • The Colorado Family Action Issue Committee.

Arguments against

Opponents argued that:

  • "Marijuana use may lead a person to use or possess other illegal drugs. Under Amendment 44 overall drug use in the state may rise, and legalizing the possession of marijuana will increase not only the availability and acceptability of marijuana, but also the likelihood that minors will have access to the drug. Colorado does not want to become a magnet for illicit drug users."[4]
  • "Policy discussions should not focus on whether alcohol or marijuana is a safer drug, because the only safe alternative to alcohol or drug intoxication is sobriety. Colorado should enforce, not repeal, drug laws. State and local drug enforcement costs are minimal compared to the social costs of drug abuse and addiction. Public safety and health concerns, along with the fact that marijuana will remain illegal under federal law, make legalizing marijuana at the state level an unwise public policy decision."[4]

Campaign spending

See also: Donations to 2006 ballot measure campaigns
Campaign cash Campaign Finance Ballotpedia.png
Category:Ballot measure endorsements Support: $207,167
Circle thumbs down.png Opposition: $1,087,711
Total: $1,294,878

Donors in favor

$207,176 was contributed to the campaign in favor of a "yes" vote on Amendment 44.[5]

Donors of $25,000 and over were:

Donor Amount
Safer Voter Education Fund $156,271
Robert Field $25,360

Donors opposed

$1,087,711 was contributed to the campaign in favor of a "no" vote on Amendment 44.[5] Since some of the committees that opposed Amendment 44 also played a role in other ballot measures on the 2006 Colorado ballot, it isn't possible to definitely know how much of the funds they raised went specifically to oppose Amendment 44.

Donors of $20,000 or more were:

Donor Amount
Focus on the Family Action $658,208
Focus on the Family $313,496
Colorado Catholic Conference $49,336
Kevin P. Kauffman $20,000

See also

External links

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