Last week, the e-commerce giant announced that it would no longer test its employees for marijuana use. This came shortly after a new drug policy was announced, which stated that, in a number of states that have legalized recreational marijuana use, employees could use the drug legally at work as long as they aren’t impaired in their performance. Amazon’s new drug policy will allow its employees to use marijuana in a number of states, but the company will continue to test its workers for drug use.
Amazon will no longer test workers for marijuana use, a move comes after leading company executives conducted reviews of how the company’s workplace drug tests are used.The second largest private employer in the United States will no longer test its employees and job applicants for marijuana use. Instead, marijuana use is treated in the same way as alcohol use – that is, it is ignored if the use does not affect job performance. In the past, like many employers, we have suspended Amazon employees when they tested positive for marijuana use. However, as laws change in different states of the United States, we have changed course, the company said. The company will continue to conduct background checks during operations and drug and alcohol checks after each incident. The announcement also only applies to positions not regulated by the Department of Transportation, meaning truck drivers and anyone who operates heavy machinery do not fall under this umbrella. Amazon’s new CEO, Dave Clark, made the announcement in a memo indicating that the company supports the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Relief Act of 2021 (also known as the MORE Act). In the past, like many employers, we have not let people work at Amazon if they tested positive for marijuana use. However, given the development of legislation in the US states, we have changed course, Clark said. We hope that other employers will join us and that the politicians will act quickly to pass this bill. The MORE Act was first introduced by New York Democratic Representative Jerry Nadler. When he raised the issue in the last session of Congress, 30 other lawmakers co-sponsored it. The purpose of the bill is to remove cannabis from the federal government’s list of controlled substances. Cannabis is currently classified as a List I drug, just like heroin or cocaine. It also directs the Government Accountability Office to conduct an investigation into the impact that the legalization of recreational cannabis has had and will continue to have on society. The law also decriminalizes the manufacture, distribution or possession of marijuana and removes a criminal record for something that would no longer be a crime. In addition, Congressman Nadler wants to require the Bureau of Labor Statistics to regularly release demographic data on cannabis business owners and their employees. We know this issue is bigger than Amazon, Clark said of the company’s decision to actively support the MORE bill. The MORE Act is currently delayed in the legislature. The House of Representatives passed the bill in the last session of Congress, but then Senator Kamala Harris introduced it in the Senate, it stalled there and has not passed since December 2020. Nadler, who chairs the House Judiciary Committee, reintroduced the bill in May 2021. In March 2021, a man in Staten Island, New York, filed a lawsuit against Amazon. He said the company denied him a job sorting packages after he tested positive for marijuana. The city where he was to work prohibited employers from testing job applicants for cannabis use. In 2020, it became part of the New York Human Rights Law. The company did not say whether its decision to change course was related to the lawsuit. However, Amazon’s headquarters are located in Washington, which in 2012 became the first state to legalize marijuana for recreational use. The company will also have a new East Coast headquarters in Virginia, where recreational marijuana will be available on January 1. July 2020 will become legal. The new policy affects 1.3 million Amazon employees. This is part of the company’s vision to be the best employer on earth and the safest place to work in the world, for which it has continued to adapt its practices. Thank you for all you do every day to help us be the best employer and safest place to work in the world, Clark wrote. It will take time, investment, ingenuity and determination, and we will continue to keep you informed of our progress. We are very proud of all our teams who help us get better every day. Amazon’s solution has already gained support. So Cassandra Frederick, executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance, issued a statement about Amazon’s announcement, saying it was a big step forward and pointing out that drug tests are invasive and not an indicator of someone’s ability to do their job. We encourage Amazon and other employers to make it a starting point, not an end point. This change can and should be the catalyst for a much more important step: an end to all drug testing, ensuring a fairer and more equitable future for millions of people, particularly black, brown and indigenous communities, who are disproportionately affected by these policies, he said. Today, marijuana possession is arrested in the United States almost every minute, even as legalization becomes more widespread. These arrests target people of color on a scale of blatant discrimination. We encourage other employers to take note and follow their example to end this counterproductive practice once and for all. And we urge the House of Representatives to quickly pass the MORE Act, without the harmful provision added to remove drug testing protections for federal employees, so we can roll up our sleeves and continue to work on marijuana justice in the Senate as well, Frederick added. Ben Kovler, CEO and founder of Green Thumb Industries, a Chicago-based cannabis consumer products company, also had an opinion. Change is coming to America. Amazon is taking the lead and we applaud its progressive, common-sense approach to cannabis, Covler wrote on Twitter. It’s the first day for America and cannabis. Charlotte Clymer, activist and author of The Truman Project, called Amazon’s move a good direction. The MORE Act would also impose a 5% tax on cannabis products. The money will be put into a trust fund to support programs and services for people and businesses disproportionately affected by the war on drugs. It also makes Small Business Administration loans and services available to those who operate legitimate cannabis-related businesses. If enacted, the legislation would prohibit the denial of federal government benefits and immigration protection to anyone on the basis of a cannabis-related criminal record.