Photo by Mika Baumeister

Amazon Vows to Treat Marijuana Like Booze & Lobby for Federal Legalization

Tech. behemoth Amazon announced it will stop drug testing most of its workers for marijuana. Instead, company leaders are vowing to treat cannabis use more like alcohol. It also announced the company will actively lobby Congress in support of legislation to end federal prohibition.

In recent years, the company has faced lawsuits from workers who were fired for using medical cannabis in accordance with state law.

“Given where state laws are moving across the US, we’ve changed course,” Amazon CEO Dick Clark said in an update posted to its company news site.

Amazon has disqualified people for testing positive for cannabis use in the past.

Amazon will no longer include marijuana in its comprehensive drug screening program for any positions not regulated by the Department of Transportation, and will instead treat marijuana use like alcohol use. The company will continue to do impairment checks on the job and will test for all drugs, including cannabis and alcohol, after any incident, Clark said.

The actions mirror what has been happening in legal states around the country, where employers have been dropping marijuana from their drug testing policies as they find it harder to find good employees who don’t test positive. Though its effects wear off quickly, marijuana can remain in the body for long periods of time, which makes it difficult to test for impairment.

Alcohol is widely accepted to help people wind down and take some stress off after rough workdays, but some companies don’t view cannabis in the same way, even though millions of Americans now consume it for the same reasons. 

A study published last year in the journal Group and Organizational Management that included managers’ employee evaluations found that those who use cannabis at night might be better daytime workers than those who use alcohol after work. The researchers postulate that using alcohol often leads to hangovers, which can affect the next day’s work performance, even as people who use cannabis don’t show the same side effects.

And a report published in the journal Substance Use and Abuse last year took a hard look at 16 studies that prove cannabis “dysfunction” and concluded that they actually show adults who use cannabis aren’t any more likely to experience injuries at work than those who don’t.

Amazon is one of the country’s largest employers, with 1.3 million workers, and Clark says it will also lobby Congress to pass the MORE Act, a federal bill that would legalize marijuana that was passed last year in the House but not even debated in the Senate, and reintroduced again last week by House Judiciary Committee Chair Jerrold Nadler, a New York Democrat.

“Because we know that this issue is bigger than Amazon, our public policy team will be actively supporting the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement Act of 2021 (MORE Act) — federal legislation that would legalize marijuana at the federal level, expunge criminal records, and invest in impacted communities,” Clark told employees in the statement. “We hope that other employers will join us, and that policymakers will act swiftly to pass this law.”

This piece was originally published by Marijuana Moment and has been edited or modified by The News Station.

Leland Rucker is a journalist who has been covering the cannabis industry culture since Amendment 64 legalized adult-use in Colorado, for Boulder Weekly, Sensi and now TheNewsStation.com. His full bio is here.

Leland Rucker is a journalist who has been covering the cannabis industry culture since Amendment 64 legalized adult-use in Colorado, for Boulder Weekly, Sensi and now TheNewsStation.com. His full bio is here.

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