California's move to legalize pot has a new heavy-hitter.
Former state Senate President Pro Tem Don Perata will kick off a statewide signature-gathering effort to reform the state's marijuana laws Friday at the annual conference of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws in San Francisco.
The Tax Cannabis 2010 effort was inspired by Oakland's successful move to tax medical marijuana.
The reform, which aims to fix what supporters say is a failed system of laws, calls for regulating cannabis like alcohol and would allow anyone 21 or older to posses up to an ounce of pot and grow it for personal use.
Backers of the initiative say it would also help the state's jobless rate and bring in funds for public schools, state parks and libraries.
Perata says the state legislature would probably not pass the initiative so they decided to take it to the voters.
California already has some of the loosest rules on marijuana for medical use under Proposition 215. The Compassionate Use Act, passed by voters in 1996, allows patients with a valid doctor's recommendation to qualify for a medical marijuana card.
Nearly 434,000 signatures of registered voters are needed by Feb. 18 for the Tax Cannabis initiative to qualify for the November ballot.