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Hey Kansas State Rep. Steve Alford: You’re a Racist

On Jan. 6, at a town hall meeting in Garden City, Kansas, state Rep. Steve Alford (R-Ulysses) was asked a question about legalizing cannabis in the state. Finding his inner Harry J. Anslinger, Alford offered a ridiculous answer:

“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. 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 to all those drugs just because of their character makeup, their genetics and that.”

Bruh. Seriously? Blacks can’t handle their weed? I’m sure Snoop Dogg would like to challenge you to a smokeout. I wonder what drug Mr. Alford was on when he made this statement? My guess is he was probably crossfaded: He got drunk on racism, snorted a little privilege to smooth it out, then opened his big fat racist mouth to spew a stream of bullshit.

I’m not surprised he said it. I mean, you can’t swing a dead blunt without hitting a racist politician in Kansas (cough, Kris Kobach, cough). I’m just upset that he got it all wrong. First of all,swhite folks use marijuana at a higher rate than black folks, so it isn’t black people that can’t handle their pot. Second, the reason Anslinger, commissioner of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics during the the Reefer Madness of the 1930s, wanted cannabis made illegal wasn’t because blacks couldn’t control themselves when they were high. It was because stoned white women couldn’t keep it together around black men. According to Anslinger, the father of cannabis prohibition, “this marijuana causes white women to seek sexual relations with Negroes, entertainers and any others. ” I mean, if you’re going to use outdated racist propaganda to support your prohibitionist stance, the least you could do is get your “facts” straight.

It would be funny if it weren’t so sad and ignorant. This dude is an elected official and this is the best reason he could find for keeping cannabis illegal? “Black people can’t handle weed”? What if I said “White people can’t handle power?” Which statement is more true?

Rep. Alford has since apologized (“I was wrong, I regret my comments”), and on Jan. 9, resigned as chair of the House Children and Seniors Committee, but it’s too little. too late. For too long we’ve let ignorant, racist people create our rules, make our laws, and use their positions of power and influence to further inequality and injustice. The entire War on Drugs is based in racism masquerading as willful ignorance.

Cannabis prohibition started as a racist policy. Ending it will go a long way toward creating a more just and equal society.

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