Perata backs legalized pot
Former state Senate President Pro Tem Don Perata is endorsing a move to legalize marijuana in California.
"It may not pass this time, but I think it's time we have a statewide conversation on the idea," Perata said today.
Perata, who is running for mayor of Oakland, will join a kickoff press conference Friday for a measure that would allow anyone over 21 to possess or grow marijuana for personal use. It would allow each local government to decide whether to tax and regulate marijuana sales.
Supporters need to gather 433,971 signatures of registered voters by Feb. 18 to qualify the measure for the November ballot.
Perata said his decision to back the proposed initiative was prompted in part by the overwhelming approval in Oakland of a measure to tax medical marijuana earlier this year.
"It's pretty well proven that medical marijuana has not unraveled society as some feared," Perata said. "This is taking the debate to a new level.
"It's not something that the state Legislature is going to pass," Perata said. There's too much opposition from conservative Republicans, he noted, and not enough support from Democrats.
So, take it straight to the voters.