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Amazon Hops on the Cannabis Train

Well, kind of. Amazon just announced that it has significantly relaxed its screening policies for cannabis and is actively lobbying for legislative reform that will decriminalize cannabis at the federal level. Is it because the tech giant ultimately wants to sell cannabis itself? Maybe. But the more pressing motivation is upping its workforce.

New Amazon Policies on Cannabis

The company reinstated employment eligibility for both former employees who were fired for positive random cannabis screenings and applicants who were deferred for the same during pre-employment tests. Now, Amazon has seen the light. In a blog post, HR boss Beth Galetti wrote that Amazon had “pre-employment marijuana testing has disproportionately affected communities of color by stalling job placement and, by extension, economic growth, and we believe this inequitable treatment is unacceptable.”

In June of this year, Amazon announced that it would only continue cannabis screening among candidates applying for jobs that are regulated by the Department of Transportation (i.e. truck drivers and operators of heavy equipment). The company will, however, continue impairment checks on the job and complete drug and alcohol testing after any incident.

The latest announcement from Amazon is a nod to the increasing number of U.S. states that are legalizing cannabis, which, Galetti notes, “[makes] it difficult to implement an equitable, consistent, and national pre-employment marijuana testing program.” Plus, it gives the company a leg up on luring job applicants. “Amazon’s pace of growth means that we are always looking to hire great new team members, and we’ve found that eliminating pre-employment testing for cannabis allows us to expand our applicant pool.”

That’s significant in itself—Amazon is an insanely huge employer—but the company’s intention to begin actively lobbying for the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement Act of 2021 (MORE Act) and the Cannabis Administration and Opportunity Act is a big deal. The first piece of legislation aims to decriminalize cannabis federally, expunge criminal records, and invest in impacted communities. The second is another bill designed to expunge federal nonviolent cannabis crimes while also allowing for resentencing those currently serving time in federal prison for these crimes.

It’s a big step, so let’s hope other companies are taking note.

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