Kansas state Rep. Steve Alford (R) apologized on Monday for claiming that black people respond “the worst” to recreational drugs “because of their character makeup” and “genetics.”
“I was wrong, I regret my comments and I sincerely apologize to anyone whom I have hurt,” Alford said in a statement to the Topeka Capital-Journal.
Alford said he has “seen firsthand how drug abuse destroys lives,” including in his own family, and said he is “committed to fighting the spread of addiction in our state.”
Alford announced later Tuesday, according to the Wichita Eagle, that he had resigned his positions as chairman of the House Children and Seniors Committee and vice-chairman of the Child Welfare Task Force in the Kansas state legislature.
“My wife is a magistrate judge and she says basically anyway 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 and when they outlawed all types of drugs in Kansas and across the United States,” he added. “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 of those drugs just because of their character makeup, their genetics and that.”
According to the Garden City Telegram, Alford was referring to Harry Anslinger’s tenure as the founding commissioner of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics (FBN). Anslinger campaigned for marijuana prohibition because of what he called “its effect on the degenerate races” and claimed that “reefer makes darkies think they’re as good as white men.”
“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,” Anslinger also said. “This marijuana causes white women to seek sexual relations with Negroes, entertainers and any others.”
Before apologizing, according to the Capital-Journal’s report, Alford claimed his remarks had nothing to do with race.
“Basically, the question of marijuana was coming up, and basically, what I’m really saying is that I’m against marijuana because it’s an entry drug into everything else,” he said to the Capital-Journal.
Alford said somebody at the event called him a racist, but claimed, “I’m about as far from being a racist as I could get.”
Alford did not immediately respond to TPM’s request for comment.
This post has been updated.