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Coronavirus likely dooms Missouri recreational marijuana campaign

Attorney Dan Viets, speaks to the media in Columbia, Mo., in 2008.
Attorney Dan Viets, speaks to the media in Columbia, Mo., in 2008.Julia Robinson/Associated Press

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — The spread of the coronavirus has likely doomed an effort to get a proposal to legalize recreational marijuana in Missouri on the November ballot, according to organizers of the campaign.

With businesses closing, public gatherings restricted, and more people staying at home because of the virus, it is harder to find voters to sign the petitions, said Dan Viets, chairman of the Missourians for a New Approach committee.

The campaign has collected 60,000 signatures. It needs to collect 170,000 signatures by May 3 to get the question of whether to legalize the use of marijuana for those 21 or older on the November ballot, The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.


Campaign manager John Payne said because of social distancing and other safety concerns, there is no practical way for campaign workers to gather the signatures. He said the campaign is exploring options and suggested the state could extend the deadline for turning in the signatures.

But Maura Browning, spokeswoman for Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft, said Ashcroft doesn't have the authority to extend the deadline because the date is outlined in the Missouri Constitution.

Payne said the campaign would try to put a similar question on the 2022 ballot if the 2020 campaign ends.