Dave Clark, Amazon’s CEO of Worldwide Consumer, announced the change as part of the company’s vision to be “Earth’s Best Employer”. The company also supports decriminalizing marijuana at the federal level.
According to the announcement made on June 1, 2021, Amazon will be changing its drug testing policy for job seekers in the US and will no longer screen for marijuana under most circumstances.
“In the past, like many employers, we’ve disqualified people from working at Amazon if they tested positive for marijuana use,” said Dave Clark. “However, given where state laws are moving across the U.S., we’ve changed course. We will no longer include marijuana in our comprehensive drug screening program for any positions not regulated by the Department of Transportation and will instead treat it the same as alcohol use.”
The company will however continue to monitor for any impairment on the job and conduct drug and alcohol tests incase of any “incidents”.
Supporting Federal Marijuana Legislation
Amazon also announced that they will push for the federal legalization of cannabis. Amazon’s public policy team will actively support the reintroduced Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement Act of 2021 (MORE Act), which aims to legalize marijuana at the federal level and clear prior convictions, as well as tax cannabis products at 5% to fund criminal and social reform projects. Dave Clark in his statement also encouraged other companies to get with it.
Although marijuana use remains illegal at the federal level, to date 36 states have legalized medical marijuana, and 16 of those states have passed laws to allow recreational use for adults over the age of 21. The House of Representatives passed the MORE Act in their previous congressional session in 2020 but is currently stalled in the Senate. Another piece of legislation waiting in the wings, the Marijuana Freedom and Opportunity Act, was sponsored by Senator Chuck Schumer.
“And because we know that this issue is bigger than Amazon, our public policy team will be actively supporting The Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement Act of 2021 (MORE Act)—federal legislation that would legalize marijuana at the federal level, expunge criminal records, and invest in impacted communities. We hope that other employers will join us and that policymakers will act swiftly to pass this law.“
Amazon, in its statement written by Dave Clark, CEO of Worldwide Consumer at Amazon, acknowledges the changing political landscape, which is opening doors to legal weed and criminal expungement.
What is Amazon really up to?
Amazon, one of the biggest retailers announced in April this year that they are looking to hire 75,000 employees across warehouses and delivery stations. Most Americans now or soon will have legal access to marijuana, so the demand for labour may have encouraged Amazon to drop its barriers for prospective employees. However, Dave Clark’s statement could also be an indication that Amazon is looking to sell and deliver medical and recreational marijuana on its platform. With the cannabis market booming around the world, medical as well as recreational cannabis has the potential to even beat Amazon’s Prime Video vertical. Even Uber, just a couple of months ago, announced that they want to get into the cannabis delivery business once federal regulation is passed.
Amazon’s new policy – Yay or Nay?
Drug testing of employees was popular in the 90s but has since declined because there’s little evidence that it actually deters drug use. The change in Amazon’s drug policy for potential employees deserves an A+. Drug testing has never provided an accurate indication of a person’s ability to perform their job, and yet this incredibly invasive practice has locked out millions of people who use drugs — even with prescription — from the workplace. Additionally, weed stays in the system for longer than alcohol, so a weekend party can potentially jeopardize your life irrevocably. However, with the new policy, employees can partake in a beer or a spliff without fear of repercussions. Of course, just like with alcohol, Amazon specified it will continue to do impairment checks and screen for drugs after on-the-job incidents.
We have mixed views about Amazon’s intentions to support federal legalization. Amazon’s public support might have a huge impact on getting the bill finalized and passed and can help undo one of the most damaging legacies of cannabis criminalization in the US. However, some are questioning whether it is just a capitalistic move or does Amazon really wants to bring about a change for the larger good. Additionally, it seems unfair that on one hand a large retailer will probably be allowed to sell and deliver “drugs” legally, whereas there are others who have spent most of their life in prison for partaking in the sales of the same “drug”.
At the end of the day, however, safe access and expunged records are what we all want, and Amazon’s support can go a long way with that. Curious to know what all of you think. Let us know in the comments below if Amazon’s new policy is backed by good intentions or merely a PR move?