Kansas Lawmaker Steps Down From Leadership Roles After Racist Remarks on Marijuana Use

Kansas Rep. Steve Alford

State Rep. Steve Alford justified marijuana prohibition with Jim Crow era logic that black Americans were more susceptible to drug abuse due to their “character makeup – their genetics and that.” 

We have seen our U.S. Attorney General, Jeff Sessions, use a racial joke to justify marijuana prohibition. Now it appears Kansas state Rep. Steve Alford is taking a page out of his book.

At a public meeting on Monday, Alford started to elaborate on why he thought marijuana was criminalized in the 1930s.

“What was the reason they did that?” he asked an all white crowd. “One of the reasons why – I hate to say it – is the African-Americans, they were basically users and they responded the worst off to those drugs. It’s 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 of the people not remembering what’s happened in the past.”

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Alford’s controversial comments were quickly criticized.

“It is hard to believe that in 2018, anyone would support the discredited and racist policies of the Jim Crow-era,” Democratic candidate for governor Carl Brewer told KSN-TV. “No matter one’s feelings on medical marijuana and marijuana legalization, we can all agree that views like those of KS Rep. Alford have no place in our statehouse, in our state or in our country.”

Civil rights leaders were also critical of Alford’s comments.

Darrell Pope, the president of the NAACP’s chapter in Hutchinson, said: “He is an idiot and that shows how oblivious Kansans are to selecting representatives to put someone like that in there to represent them.”

Alford has since issued an apology.

“As an aside, I also remarked that one of the original reasons behind the criminalization of the drug in the 1930s was its negative effects on society and more specifically the damaging consequences on the African American community,” Alford’s statement said. “I was wrong, I regret my comments, and I sincerely apologize to anyone whom I have hurt.”

Alford has stepped down from two committees in the state legislature.

Anti-marijuana views may run deep in Kansas. Unlike most states, Kansas has yet to legalize any form of medical marijuana use, including CBD.

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