New Colorado initiative seeks to lower the drinking age to 18

New Colorado initiative seeks to lower the drinking age to 18

VicesNovember 22, 2016 By Reilly Capps

If you thought Colorado was done trying to break legal ground, you thought wrong.

A couple of activists filed a ballot initiative with the state that would drop the legal drinking age to 18.

"If you can go serve in the military and get killed, why shouldn't you be able to drink a beer?" said Codey Tamez, 24, a Denver man who runs a moving company and is listed on the initiative as a proponent. They're hoping to get it on the 2018 ballot, Tamez said.

Call it: 18 in '18. 

In a phone interview, Tamez noted that much of the world has a lower drinking age than the United States. Only four developed countries have a drinking age over 18. And, yet, many countries with lower drinking ages have fewer problems with teenage drinking the we do. Tamez himself lived in Germany for a couple years; it seemed to him there were fewer problems with teen drinking there. 

The drinking age in Colorado was 18 until the mid-80s. But the federal government passed a law in 1984 that tied highway funds to a drinking age of 21. That has made lowering the drinking age in any state next to impossible. 

Tamez thinks the benefits of changing the law might be huge. Now that seven states have legalized recreational marijuana, Colorado might lose some of marijuana tourists to other states. This law could reduce those losses, Tamiz says. If more 18, 19, and 20 year olds came here for drinking vacations, Colorado businesses might make bank.

Don't bank on this initiative showing up on the ballot. It's hard to get an initiative on the Colorado ballot, and getting harder, especially for activists who have no big money behind them, which Tamez and his co-proponent, James Leamon, don't.

But they're hopeful that their initiative will become law. And Colorado will make history again.