TOPEKA, Kan. — A Kansas state lawmaker made racist comments about blacks and marijuana, saying that because of their “character makeup, their genetics” African-Americans had the worst response to the drug.

He apologized Monday after mounting criticism.

Republican state Rep. Steve Alford of Ulysses made the statements over the weekend at a legislative coffee event in response to a question about marijuana legalization.

“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 they did that? 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 just because their character makeup, their genetics, and that,” Alford said at the event.

The Garden City Telegram first reported Alford’s remarks and posted video of his comments to YouTube.

State Rep. Valdenia Winn, an African-American lawmaker from Kansas City, Kansas, said Monday afternoon Alford’s comment was “bizarre.”

“He needs to apologize to somebody, if nothing else the individuals of color in his own community,” she said.

A short time later, he did. In a written statement, he described his comments as an aside and that he had remarked that one of the original reasons behind the criminalization of marijuana 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,” Alford said in the statement. “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.”

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