Racist comments from a Kansas lawmaker are drawing criticism on the first day of the 2018 session.
Republican Representative Steve Alford was speaking to constituents in Garden City Saturday when a member of the audience asked about legalizing marijuana.
Alford suggested because of their “character” and “genetics,” African Americans are more susceptible to abusing drugs. Alford said that’s one reason drugs were outlawed in the 1930s.
“One of the reasons why, I hate to say it. The African Americans, they were basically users, and they basically responded the worst off those drugs because of their character makeup, their genetics and that,” Alford said at the town hall meeting.
Alford apologized in a statement Monday afternoon, saying his concern about legalizing marijuana comes from drug addiction affecting his own family.
"I was wrong, I regret my comments, and I sincerely apologize to anyone whom I have hurt," Alford said in the statement.
Republican House Speaker Ron Ryckman condemned the comments.
“We were taken aback by his statements and disappointed with them. In no way do they reflect the position of the Kansas House or the policies that we will produce,” Ryckman said.
A spokesperson in the speaker’s office said they are investigating how to respond.