Kansas Republican Lawmaker Says African Americans Can't Handle Marijuana Because Of 'Their Genetics'
It seems January is the month for Republicans making news when it comes to marijuana. A Kansas state Republican lawmaker is the most recent to make headlines after he resurrected Jim Crow ideals on African Americans and marijuana.
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During a speech he made over the weekend, State Representative, Steve Alford (R) said that African Americans are genetically predisposed to handle marijuana poorly when compared to other races.
Alford's comments come just days after Jeff Sessions announced he is rescinding the Obama-era initiative that allowed cannabis to flourish in legal states.
The Garden City Telegram reported that the Republican representative told an all-white crowd that marijuana was criminalized during the prohibition era in the 1930s primarily because of African Americans and marijuana use. The racist outburst was in response to a question asked by a member of the local Democratic party about the potential economic benefits of cannabis legalization.
“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. “What was the reason why they did that? 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.”
When called out for his remarks, Alford insisted, “I got called a racist, which I’m really not.”
Unfortunately, Alford’s beliefs are nothing new. His comments reference beliefs promoted by marijuana prohibitionist Harry Anslinger, the founding commissioner of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics. It was under Anslinger's leadership that the FBN pushed through the Marijuana Tax Act of 1937 which criminalized cannabis on the federal level in the United States.
Anslinger's beliefs were also racist in nature. The Telegram noted that he once cited marijuana’s “effect on the degenerate races” as a reason for prohibition. “Reefer makes darkies think they’re as good as white men”, he once said.
You can watch Alford’s comments below, but be warned, you may find them offensive.