Amazon strives to stop drug testing job seekers for cannabis and supports legalization

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Bethan Rose Jenkins, Cannabis News Writer/Editorial

World-famous tech company Amazon has announced some news that will likely have cannabis consumers rejoicing. 

As per a recent statement from the company – which is acknowledged as the second-largest private employer in the United States – Amazon will no longer demand a cannabis drug test from new job applicants.

The announcement signals a welcome approach to pot, which has been legalized across the vast majority of America over the last few years.

Not only will Amazon allow prospective employees to apply without undergoing cannabis drug testing but also, the company says that it is actively backing nationwide cannabis legalization.

“In the past, like many employers, we’ve disqualified people from working at Amazon if they tested positive for marijuana use,” reads an excerpt from a company blog post. “However, given where state laws are moving across the U.S., we’ve changed course.”

Cannabis consumers and lobbyists are applauding Amazon’s news. It is sure to ease the minds of hiring managers affiliated with the company, which is quickly expanding operations into cannabis-friendly locations.

Tech giant Amazon’s home State became one of the first to legalize recreational cannabis 

Amazon’s global headquarters can be found in more than 40 owned and leased buildings sprinkled around Seattle, Washington. The company’s home State legalized cannabis for recreational purposes in 2012; the same year that Colorado legalized the plant for adult-use purposes.

Now, the multinational technology company is setting its sights on another cannabis-friendly location. Amazon is currently in the process of constructing an East Coast headquarters in Virginia, where legal weed will be available from July 1. 

Expansion operations are also underway in New York, where cannabis legalization occurred at the end of March. Prior to cannabis legalization in New York, the northeastern U.S. state announced plans to ban cannabis drug testing for prospective employees in New York City; with some exceptions. 

Once the new law was in effect, Amazon faced a lawsuit from a New Yorker who alleged that the company stepped beyond its power in illegally backpedaling on a hiring opportunity, simply because the male plaintiff tested positive for the active psychoactive component contained in cannabis — THC (tetrahydrocannabinol).

With Amazon gearing up to change its rules for cannabis testing, just a handful of job candidates will continue to face scrupulous drug testing — individuals who  apply for positions regulated by the Department of Transportation, such as roles that require employees to operate heavy machinery and delivery trucks.

The company affirms that it will handle cannabis in the same way that it handles alcohol; by testing for such substances if a dangerous incident or accident occurs.

Amazon is showing support for the MORE Act

In addition to easing the burden of cannabis drug testing for prospective employees, Amazon has also confirmed that its public policy team “will be actively supporting” the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment & Expungement Act (MORE Act). 

“We hope that other employers will join us, and that policymakers will act swiftly to pass this law,” Amazon announced in a statement.

If lawmakers choose to pass the MORE Act, it would officially banish cannabis from the list of drugs featured in the federal Controlled Substances Act (CSA). 

Consequently, this would make cannabis’ legal status on-par with that of alcohol and tobacco, meaning that cannabis products would be taxed; taxes would be used to invest in communities hardest hit by cannabis prohibition.

New York City–based non-profit organization, The Drug Policy Alliance, asserts that pot prohibition laws “are responsible for more than half a million arrests in the United States every year.” 

The organization is supportive of decriminalization efforts and, in a recent statement to NPR, members of the nonprofit praised Amazon’s cannabis drug testing rule changes as “a huge step forward.”

“Drug testing has never provided an accurate indication of a person’s ability to perform their job,” the group said, “and yet this incredibly invasive practice has locked out millions of people who use drugs – both licit and illicit – from the workplace.”

The MORE Act was approved by the House in the previous congressional session following its introduction by Rep. Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., and 30 co-sponsors.

Former Senator Kamala Harris proceeded to introduce a companion bill in the Senate, which eventually fell flat.