TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas lawmaker who suggested at a public forum that blacks were predisposed to abusing drugs resigned from two committee leadership jobs on Tuesday, three days after making the remarks.
Republican Rep. Steve Alford of the western Kansas town of Ulysses stepped down as chairman of the House Children and Seniors Committee and as vice chairman of a legislative task force on child welfare. He won’t keep a seat on either committee but will retain other committee assignments.
During the public meeting Saturday in Garden City, Alford discussed his opposition to legalizing any use of marijuana and referenced a time in the 1930s when it was outlawed.
The 75-year-old said marijuana and other drugs were prohibited partly because blacks responded “the worst” to the drugs “because of their character makeup — their genetics and that.” None of the roughly 60 people in the crowd was black.
One NAACP leader later called Alford “an idiot” over the remarks.
The Garden City Telegram first reported on the statement Monday and posted a video of it to YouTube. Alford apologized later that day, saying: “I was wrong, I regret my comments, and I sincerely apologize to anyone whom I have hurt.”
Kansas is one of the few remaining states that haven’t legalized some form of medical marijuana, including low-THC marijuana derivatives that can’t get a user high. But the legalization question has been percolating in Kansas in recent years.
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