On Saturday, during a Legislative Coffee session at St. Catherine Hospital in Kansas, a state lawmaker claimed that Black people are genetically predisposed to handle marijuana badly.
Zach Worf, president of the Finney County Democrats, had just argued that legalizing marijuana might help the cash-strapped state, but Rep. Steve Alford stepped in with both feet. He told Worf to look at the policies of the 1930s, when Prohibition was coming to an end.
Basically, Alford said that the laws were put in place during Prohibition to protect people from drug-abusing “African Americans.”
“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. “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.”
The pronouncement left the group in stunned silence. Worf later said that he felt like he had been transported back in time and told Alford after the Q&A that it was “the most racist thing [he had] ever heard.”
Still, Alford stood by his remarks, though he admitted he should not have singled out any one racial group.
“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.”
“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.”