SEATTLE– Amazon released a statement confirming that it will no longer test job seekers for cannabis. Furthermore, the company said that they back cannabis legalization. “In the past, like many employers, we’ve disqualified people from working at Amazon if they tested positive for marijuana use,” the company said in a blog post on Tuesday. “However, given where state laws are moving across the U.S., we’ve changed course.”
This is a significant announcement from America’s 2nd largest company and the world’s biggest e-tailer.
This is not surprising given that the company operates in places where cannabis is legal at the state level. And also it could be because they have a pending class-action lawsuit for illegally testing New York job applicants.
It’s taking them some time. A dozen years ago, Amazon’s home state of Washington was among the first in the country to legalize cannabis for recreational use. That was back in 2012.
Fast forward to now, the tech giant is now building an East Coast headquarters in Virginia, where weed will become legal on July 1. It has also been expanding in New York, which legalized cannabis at the end of March.
Even before New York legalized cannabis, New York City banned testing prospective employees for cannabis, with some exceptions. Based on that law, a New York man sued Amazon in March, saying the company illegally reversed a hiring offer because he had tested positive for THC, the active ingredient in cannabis.
With the revised policies, the only job candidates Amazon will screen for cannabis are those applying for positions regulated by the Department of Transportation — a category that includes delivery truck drivers and operators of heavy machinery. Amazon is also acting on the political level, throwing its weight behind the push to legalize cannabis in the U.S. and expunge criminal records for nonviolent cannabis-related convictions.
Amazon’s public policy team of almost 100 lobbyists “will be actively supporting” the MORE Act — the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement Act — a move that adds momentum to legislation that was reintroduced in Congress on Friday.
The MORE Act would remove cannabis from the list of drugs in the federal Controlled Substances Act, making its status similar to alcohol and tobacco. It would also tax cannabis products, directing taxes be used to invest in communities disproportionately harmed by cannabis’s criminalization.
“We hope that other employers will join us, and that policymakers will act swiftly to pass this law,” Amazon said in a statement about its support for legal cannabis.
U.S. House of representatives approved the MORE Act in the previous congressional session (115th Congress) after Rep. Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., and nearly 30 co-sponsors introduced it. Last Friday Mr. Nadler re-introduced his bill to the 116th Congress. Again, it’s facing Republican intransigence in the evenly divided U.S. Senate.
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