A Kansas state legislator has stepped down from the chairmanship of a Kansas House committee after he said African-Americans were more susceptible to marijuana because of “their character makeup” and “their genetics.”
Republican state Rep. Steve Alford made the remarks Saturday to a small gathering in Garden City, Kansas. He was making the case against Kansas legalizing marijuana – just as its neighbor, Colorado, has done.
As he walked through the history of why marijuana was prohibited, he said:
“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.”
Video of the meeting shows no one addressed Alford’s remarks at the time. Alford, who is white, was speaking to a crowd of about 60 people, none of whom were black, The Garden City Telegram reported.
But after the newspaper reported on the comments and criticism followed, Alford issued a written apology through his office Monday.
The statement read:
“This past weekend I made comments at a town hall in Garden City, Kansas, regarding my opposition to the legalization of marijuana. 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. I was wrong, I regret my comments, and I sincerely apologize to anyone whom I have hurt.”
On Tuesday, Alford stepped down as chairman of the House Committee on Children and Seniors, House Chief Clerk Susan Kannarr told CNN.
It is unclear if Alford’s decision to step down is related to his Garden City comments.
Alford and his office didn’t respond to CNN’s request for comment.