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01/26/2022

Amazon endorses bill to reform federal cannabis laws

Dan Berthiaume
Senior Editor, Technology
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Amazon is supporting cannabis reform legislation.

The country’s second-largest private employer behind Walmart is throwing its support behind proposed legislation to end federal cannabis prohibition.

Amazon, which previously threw its public support behind the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement Act of 2021 (MORE Act) and the Cannabis Administration and Opportunity Act, is now backing the States Reform Act.

Filed by Congresswoman Nancy Mace (R-FL), this Republican-led bill calls for the removal of cannabis from federal Schedule 1 drug classification. This would end prohibition of cannabis at the federal level and allow each state to determine its own level of cannabis reform (currently, 47 of 50 states have some form of legal cannabis available).

Amazon made a major move to support federal cannabis legalization in June 2021, when the company said that it will no longer include marijuana in its comprehensive drug screening program. Instead, it will treat marijuana the same as alcohol. The only exception will be for positions subject to regulation by the Department of Transportation, such as truck drivers.

Amazon also reinstated the employment eligibility for former employees and applicants who were previously terminated or deferred during random or pre-employment marijuana screenings.

Amazon says it made these changes to how it treats cannabis after recognizing that an increasing number of states are moving to some level of cannabis legalization—making it difficult to implement an equitable, consistent, and national pre-employment marijuana testing program. And Amazon’s pace of growth means that it is frequently hiring new employees, and it has found that eliminating pre-employment testing for cannabis allows it to expand its applicant pool.

[Read more: Amazon extends hiring blitz with 125,000 new openings]

In addition, according to Amazon, pre-employment marijuana testing has disproportionately affected communities of color by stalling job placement and, by extension, economic growth, and it believes this treatment is unacceptable. The company said it considers its changes in how it treats employee marijuana use and drug-screening part of a commitment made by outgoing CEO Jeff Bezos to make Amazon “Earth’s Best Employer” in April 2021.

“We remain committed to the safety of our employees and the general public,” Beth Galetti, Amazon senior VP of HR, said in a corporate blog post. “In addition to following all Department of Transportation regulations, our policy on zero tolerance for impairment while working has not changed. If a delivery associate is impaired at work and tests positive post-accident or due to reasonable suspicion, that person would no longer be permitted to perform services for Amazon. In addition, Amazon Pharmacy conducts comprehensive drug testing for employees, including screenings for marijuana, to ensure full compliance with industry standards, regulations, and accreditation.

“We are enthused by the notable momentum in the country toward recognizing that today’s status quo is unfair and untenable,” said Galetti. “We look forward to working with Congress and other supporters to secure necessary reform of the nation’s cannabis laws.”