A Republican member of the Kansas House of Representatives has sparked outrage with a racially charged claim that African-American people’s “character makeup” and “genetics” make them more susceptible to use of marijuana.
At a recent town hall, State Rep. Steve Alford (R) spoke out against legalizing pot in Kansas first mentioning that his freedom to breathe clean air while walking down the sidewalk is put in jeopardy by somebody possibly driving by smoking marijuana in their car with the window open. Then, Alford started to talk about the 1930s.
“What you really need to do is go back in the 30s, when they outlawed all types of drugs in Kansas and across the United States,” Alford said at the town hall meeting (above). “And what was the reason why they did that? One of the reasons why — I hate to say it — is the African-Americans were basically users and they basically responded the worst to all those drugs because of their character makeup, their genetics. So, basically, what we’re trying to do is a complete reverse, with people not remembering what’s happened in the past.”
The Garden City Telegram, a local newspaper for Garden City, Kansas, pointed out that Alford’s comments appeared to be based on the theories of Harry Anslinger, the founding commissioner of what was then called the Federal Bureau of Narcotics, which was behind the Marijuana Tax Act of 1937. From 1930 to 1937, the Telegram reported, Anslinger campaigned for prohibition against the use of the cannabis plant postulating that marijuana caused crime and violence and saying, “Reefer makes darkies think they’re as good as white men.”
Alford issued a public apology Monday after lawmakers and state officials condemned his remarks.
“I apologize, I regret my comments and I sincerely apologize to anyone whom I have hurt,” Alford said in a statement.