Prior to the outbreak of COVID-19 in the United States, it seemed like Missouri voters might get a chance to vote this year on whether to legalize recreational marijuana. That appears to no longer be the case, as efforts to collect the required number of signatures to appear on the ballot were suspended on Wednesday.

While it is disappointing, this result is hardly surprising. Getting roughly 170,000 signatures for the initiative to appear on the ballot was never going to be easy, but traditional constraints were exacerbated by the state’s stay-at-home order and social-distancing requirements. Organizers tried to explore alternatives to traditional means of collecting in-person signatures, but to no avail. “We had hoped that it might be possible to persuade the state of Missouri to allow online signature gathering under the extraordinary circumstances we find ourselves in this spring,” said Dan Viets, coordinator for Missouri NORML. “However, that has not proven to be an option, and there does not appear to be any other path to gathering the 170,000 valid signatures we would require prior to the deadline in early May.”

It will be interesting to see how strong the push will be for a ballot initiative on recreational marijuana next year. In the meantime, the rollout of Missouri’s medical marijuana program is still reportedly “on track.” We will continue to keep you updated on legalization efforts in Missouri—and across the country—on our blog.

Visit our COVID-19 Resource Center often for up-to-date information to help you stay informed of the legal issues related to COVID-19.