Republican Kansas state Rep. Steve Alford asserted archaic and false beliefs over the weekend that black people are genetically and otherwise by their natures predisposed to becoming addicted to drugs.
Via New York Daily News:
“What you really need to do is go back in the ‘30s when they outlawed all types of drugs in Kansas, across the United States, what was the reason they did that?” Alford said during the event, which was caught on video by a Garden City Telegram reporter.
“One of the reasons why, I hate to say it, the African-Americans, they were basically users,” Alford continued. “They basically responded the worst off those drugs just because (of) their character makeup, their genetics, and that.”
The Republican's claims have roots in oldschool thinking that has since been thoroughly debunked.
Alford’s inaccurate comments drew upon a racist myth originally perpetuated by Harry Anslinger, the first commissioner of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics, who in the 1930s said marijuana causes “darkies” to think “they’re as good as white men.” Anslinger also infamously said that marijuana makes white women “seek sexual relations with n-----s.”
Extensive federal research disproves Alford's claim. A 2016 study by the National Survey on Drug Use and Health actually noted that white people were slightly more likely than black people to meet diagnostic criteria for substance-abuse disorder.
After initially defending his comments and claiming others brought race into his words, saying "I'm about as far away from being a racist as I can get", Alford issued an apology on Monday:
“I was wrong, I regret my comments, and I sincerely apologize to anyone whom I have hurt,” Alford said a statement. “Substance abuse is a blight on our society, and legalizing marijuana opens the door to harder drugs. I have seen firsthand how drug abuse destroys lives, even within my own family, and I remain committed to fighting the spread of addiction in our state.”