Kansas lawmaker goes full racist on marijuana prohibition, blames African Americans for "character makeup, their genetics"
Oh boy. We've said here before that the fact that marijuana is illegal in the United States is founded on racist perceptions (and some people don't even like the word "marijuana" as a term due to racist connotations, preferring "cannabis" instead). In the past, many cannabis users were non-white, and to suppress those people, the government made the drug illegal, providing an easy reason to lock up and persecute anyone using it (the fact that a lot of counter-culture people also used it was just icing on the cake).
Good thing legalization is on the way and those days are over, right? Not so fast. This weekend (like, last Saturday), in early January 2018, Kansas lawmaker Steve Alford stood in front of a room full of white people and when asked about legalization, said straight up that one of the reasons marijuana was outlawed was because African Americans used it. And he didn't stop there. Fortunately, there's video.
That video starts with Alford suggesting that marijuana turns people into bad drivers. He uses an unsourced story as evidence, when actually the real evidence shows that there have been fewer accidents in Colorado since the drug has become legal there. Even if legalizing did cause people to smoke behind the wheel, that action has stayed illegal anyway.
Then Alford suggests that his ability to breathe clean air is justification for the persecution of people just trying to stay healthy and just have responsible fun. Cigarettes have caused far more health issues than marijuana has, and no one has made them illegal, not to mention that again, laws about where people can consume have also stayed on the books in legal states.
Then things get really crazy. Alford points to prohibition itself and says that marijuana is a gateway drug (not true -- this is another argument that is founded on racist perceptions), and then actually says, in public, in 2018, that African Americans were targeted in prohibition because their "character makeup, their genetics" meant they "responded the worst to all of those drugs."
That's insane. This is an elected officeholder speaking like this in front of a crowd. This is the wacky thinking that's caused so many problems over the years, and that still prevents those in need from finding helpful medicine and that keeps racist cops pulling over people and using "I smelled weed on him" as an excuse for persecution.
Alford did apologize, because he's clearly sorry he got caught speaking his mind. He blames the marijuana conversation on a pro-legalization supporter who asked him about it. That supporter (our hero) is named Zach Worf, who's the chairman of the Finney County Democrats. After the presentation, he says he told Alford, "'That was the most racist thing I've ever heard anybody say and I will make it a point for your constituents to know exactly what your thoughts were here today.'"
Thanks for doing that. It's one thing to read about the history of marijuana prohibition, but it's another to actually hear it coming out of a lawmaker's mouth in 2018. Alford's views are racist and idiotic, and we'll all be better off when backwards legislators like him are out of a job, and replaced with representatives who actually rely on science and information rather than racist perceptions.