Kansas lawmaker resigns leadership positions following controversial comments

Posted: Updated:
Rep. Steve Alford Rep. Steve Alford
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) -

A Kansas State Representative has asked to be removed from his leadership positions following controversial comments he made last weekend.   State Rep. Steve Alford has apologized for suggesting that blacks have a genetic predisposition to abusing drugs.

 In a statement released today,  Rep. Alford said he is stepping down as chairman of the House Committee on Children and Seniors, and as vice-chairman of the Child Welfare System Task Force.  

Rep. Alford made the comments during a voters forum in Garden City.  

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The Latest on a Kansas state lawmaker's remarks that marijuana and other drugs originally were outlawed in part because blacks "responded worst" to them because of "genetics and that"  (all times local):

4:10 p.m.

Kansas House leaders say they don't know if they'll take action against a white lawmaker who suggested that blacks had a genetic predisposition to abusing drugs.

Republican House Speaker Ron Ryckman Jr. said Monday that the comments of fellow GOP state Rep. Steve Alford don't reflect the Legislature's views and are disappointing.

Republican House Majority Leader Don Hineman says he doesn't condone the remarks.

Ryckman said they will consult with other lawmakers and the Legislature's staff about how to respond.

The 75-year-old Alford argued in a public meeting Saturday against legalizing any use of marijuana. He suggested it and other drugs were originally outlawed in part because blacks were "basically users" and "responded worst" to the drugs because of their "character makeup -- their genetics and that."

Alford released the following statement:

"This past weekend I made comments at a town hall in Garden City, Kansas regarding my opposition to the legalization of marijuana.  As an aside, I remarked that one of the original reasons behind the criminalization of the drug in the 1930s was its negative effects on society and more specifically the damaging consequences on the African American community.  I was wrong,  I regret my comments, and I sincerely apologize to anyone whom I have hurt.

Substance abuse is a blight on our society, and legalizing marijuana only 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."

2:46 p.m.

A white Kansas state lawmaker arguing against the legalization of any use of marijuana suggested that it and other drugs were originally outlawed in part because blacks were "basically users" and "responded worst" to the drugs because of their "character makeup -- their genetics and that."

State Rep. Steve Alford, a 75-year-old Republican from Ulysses, in the west of the state, made the comments Saturday during a public meeting at a hospital in Garden City. The Garden City Telegram first reported on the statement Monday and posted a video of it to YouTube.

When asked about his remarks by The Associated Press on Monday, Alford declined to elaborate, other than to say: "To me, that's neutral." He also said he's not a racist.

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