A Republican politician brought Jim Crow as his guest to a legislative coffee session last Saturday. State Rep. Steve Alford (R) made racist comments when he cited Jim Crow laws and said that African-Americans used marijuana due to genetics and character makeup. The Garden City Telegram first reported the story, complete with a YouTube video.
In a fit of reefer madness, Alford referenced the 1930’s jazz era, saying that cannabis was banned to protect society from Black people who used drugs. “Basically, any way you say it, marijuana is an entry drug into the higher drugs. 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.” He added that he hates to say it, but African-Americans responded the most to drugs because of “character makeup and genetics.”
Alford was citing a time period when the Federal Bureau of Narcotics was a government drug enforcement agency headed by Harry Anslinger, who was responsible for the Marijuana Tax Act of 1937. Anslinger was an advocate for cannabis prohibition throughout the 1930’s and once said that reefer makes Black people think “they’re as good as White men.” Alford insisted that he is not a bonafide bigot while issuing his “sincere” apology saying that marijuana was criminalized because of its negative effects on Black society. He added that he regretted his comments and said weed is a blight on society that would be a gateway to harsh drugs. Kansas does not have legalized medical marijuana in any form.
Democratic candidate for governor of Kansas, Carl Brewer, said that Alford's comments were appalling. Brewer told KSN-TV that "It is hard to believe that in 2018, anyone would support the discredited and racist policies of the Jim Crow-era. 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." Kansas is known for its discrimination against African-Americans.
Kansas Rep. Valdenia Winn (D) called the remarks bizarre and demanded Alford apologize to the people in his district. The president of the NAACP Darrell Pope called Alford an idiot, adding that Kansas is obliviously choosing racists to represent them.
House Majority Leader Don Hineman and House Speaker Ron Ryckman Jr. said that they were disappointed by Alford’s bigotry and "completely taken aback" by his comments. Alford spoke with the lawmakers prior to giving his tired apology.
Author Bio: Niko Mann is a freelance writer living in Los Angeles, California.