A Kansas GOP lawmaker made shocking remarks during a political event on Saturday. Speaking at a “Legislative Coffee,” State Rep. Steve Alford (R) said that African-Americans have “responded the worst” to marijuana due to their “genetics” and “character makeup.”
According to The Garden City Telegram, Alford said that Jim Crow-era policies banning drugs, such as marijuana, were put in place to protect other citizens from drug use by black Americans, who “basically responded the worst” to drugs.
From the Telegram:
“When Zach Worf, president of the Finney County Democrats, argued that legalizing marijuana could be a financial boon to cash-strapped Kansas, Alford told him he should look to the 1930s … for a history lesson.
“’Basically any way you say it, marijuana is an entry drug into the higher drugs,’ Alford said. ‘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.
“’What was the reason why they did that?’ he continued to a crowd of about 60 people, none of whom were black. ‘One of the reasons why, I hate to say it, was that the African Americans, they were basically users and they basically responded the worst off to those drugs just because of their character makeup, their genetics and that. And so basically what we’re trying to do is we’re trying to do a complete reverse with people not remembering what has happened in the past.’
Alford’s reference to the 30’s is related to the fight against legalizing marijuana, led by a man named Harry Anslinger who was known for his racism. He was the founding commissioner of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics (FBN).
According to the publication, Anslinger campaigned for prohibition against the cannabis plant from from 1930 to 1937, saying marijuana causes crime and violence. They attribute several racist quotes to Anslinger, as referenced below. (Warning: language in the quotes is offensive.)
Anslinger is quoted as saying, “Reefer makes darkies think they’re as good as white men.”
Anslinger also reportedly said marijuana prohibition was founded for the prevention of “its effect on the degenerate races.”
Another quote attributed to Anslinger: “There are 100,000 total marijuana smokers in the U.S., and most are Negroes, Hispanics, Filipinos and entertainers. Their Satanic music, jazz and swing result from marijuana use. This marijuana causes white women to seek sexual relations with Negroes, entertainers and any others.”
Alford’s reference to the fight against legalizing marijuana did not include nods to Anslinger, but they were seen as offensive on their own.
During Alford’s remarks, no one directly disputed what he was saying, but Word later told Alford that his comments were “the most racist thing [he had] ever heard.”
Republican state lawmakers also disagreed with Alford’s statements after the event. Sen. John Doll, R-Garden City, said, “We believe what we want to believe. I don’t agree with the comment.”
Alford stood by his remarks when asked about them later, saying he shouldn’t have singled out African Americans, however.
“There are certain groups of people, their genetics, the way their makeup is, the chemicals will affect them differently,” Alford said. “That’s what I should have said – was drugs affect people differently – instead of being more specific.”
He said his comment was only meant to be a historical rundown. “It’s just the history of how come we are with the drug laws that we do have today, and how come the United States was so prevalent in outlawing drugs. I think we’ve got to look back to see what has happened in the past to look forward.”