Amazon.com, Inc. (Nasdaq: AMZN) is voicing support for the legalization of weed federally in the United States, while the mega-company halts its employee drug-screening policy for cannabis.
Dave Clark, CEO worldwide consumer, said in a blog post Tuesday that Amazon will “actively support” the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act — proposed legislation that would see cannabis legalized at the federal level and erase weed-related criminal records.
The MORE Act was reintroduced in the House of Representatives on Friday.
Amazon will also stop screening employees for weed, with the exception of roles regulated by the Department of Transportation. However, it will continue impairment checks on the job and test for all drugs and alcohol after any incident.
The move essentially treats weed like alcohol, allowing employees to partake in their free time without consequence.
“In the past, like many employers, we’ve disqualified people from working at Amazon if they tested positive for marijuana use. However, given where state laws are moving across the U.S., we’ve changed course,” Clark said.
Advocacy group the Marijuana Policy Project applauds Amazon’s decisions, citing the potential impact for one of the nation’s largest employers to update its drug-testing policy on cannabis.
“Disqualifying potential employees for cannabis use is both outdated and bad for business,” said Matthew Schweich, deputy director at the project, in a statement. “Adults should not be punished for responsibly using cannabis outside of the workplace. It simply does not make sense for law-abiding citizens to be denied employment or risk losing their jobs over a substance that is safer than alcohol.”
Schweich argued more employers should follow Amazon’s lead and stop testing for cannabis as a condition for employment. “Amazon’s support for the MORE Act is yet another sign that the American people — and the American business community — back federal cannabis reform that begins to rectify the harms of cannabis prohibition by prioritizing social justice and social equity.”
While Amazon’s decisions reflect the reality that some of its hundreds of thousands of employees likely use cannabis already, the firm could also be considering the significant business opportunity in the space as well.
In an interview with the Texas Tribune in 2019, CEO of Amazon-owned Whole Foods Market John Mackey said cannabis could be in grocery stores if Texas legalizes the plant.
The S&P/TSX Cannabis Index, an aggregate of Canadian cannabis stocks, climbed over 7 per cent Wednesday.
But while Amazon employees will be able to light up an after-work joint without the worry of drug screening, the firm is currently being sued by a former employee who alleges he was fired over a failed drug test despite using state-legal medical marijuana for diagnosed anxiety and a panic disorder.
A class-action lawsuit in New York state has also been filed against Amazon for its pre-employment drug screening for cannabis. Court documents note the significant use of recreational weed in the general public and suggest the corporation refused to hire more than 100 people because they failed that screening.