Amazon pledged to no longer test most of its prospective employees in the US for cannabis use and has lent its support to a comprehensive federal bill that would decriminalize cannabis.
“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,” said Amazon CEO Dave Clark in a blog post outlining the mega-corporation’s vision to be the best and safest place to work in the world.
The move comes a few months after a New York man filed a lawsuit against Amazon claiming he was rejected for a job because he failed a drug test for cannabis, even though the city no longer allows employers to issue such tests.
Amazon employs nearly 1.3 million people in the US, the majority of whom live in jurisdictions that have reformed their marijuana laws. Fifteen states have legalized marijuana for recreational use in the US, with three more set to follow in the coming months. In total, 38 states permit marijuana use for either recreational or medical purposes
Clark goes on to say that Amazon drivers will still be precluded from using cannabis outside of work as these roles fall under the purview of the US Department of Transport. The retail giant will also still screen prospective employees for other controlled substances as well as workers for on-the-job marijuana impairment, with positive results treated along the same lines as alcohol intoxication.
Clark then details Amazon’s support for the Marijuana Opportunity, Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act, which has been passed four times by the US House of Representatives and which top Senate lawmakers are using as the basis for a new piece of federal marijuana legalization legislation. The MORE Act would federally decriminalize cannabis, expunge prior marijuana-related convictions, and establish a new federal agency charged with reinvesting marijuana tax dollars in communities most harmed by the war on drugs.
“We hope that other employers will join us, and that policymakers will act swiftly to pass this law,” Clark writes in the blog post.
Responding to Amazon’s decision, Kassandra Frederique, executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance, described it as a “huge step forward in eliminating one of the main ways the drug war has robbed so many of their livelihoods.”
“This change can and should be the catalyst to a much larger move — ending testing for all drugs — that would ensure a more just and equitable future for millions of people, especially Black, Brown and Indigenous communities who have been disproportionately impacted by these policies,” Frederique added. “We urge other employers to take note and follow suit, ending this counterproductive practice once and for all.”