Owned by the richest man in the world, Jeff Bezos, Amazon is an easily recognizable company across the United States. It’s likely that you have used it once or twice. Maybe you use it all the time. Their services, such as Prime and Amazon Fresh, make online shopping much more convenient. It seems that this ever-expanding company is attempting to broaden its specialties. On June 1, Amazon announced its support for the end of federal cannabis prohibition across the United States. Does this mean that Amazon is pushing for cannabis legalization? 

What does this mean for cannabis in the workplace, specifically for Amazon’s employees? How is Amazon pushing for cannabis legalization? 

Cannabis Stereotypes Hindering Legalization

As many know, there are stereotypes attached to people who smoke weed. They’ve existed for years, affecting the way public perception of cannabis. These include being lazy, dumb, and unmotivated to do anything. Unfortunately, but not surprisingly, these stereotypes have racist and discriminatory beginnings. It’s important to acknowledge these stereotypes as what they are: stereotypes. 

Actual research has shown the extensive benefits of smoking weed. Aside from reducing anxiety and depression, cannabis can actually help you live a healthy and active lifestyle. There are benefits to combining exercise and cannabis. So why exactly do many workplaces prohibit the consumption of cannabis? 

Amazon’s Push for Cannabis Legalization changes work policies

Amazon is not the first company to change its work policies to allow its employees to use cannabis. But it is the biggest and most mainstream company to do so. Not only did it announce relaxing work policies, but Amazon also announced its support for a cannabis legalization bill. 

Amazon stated that it would stop testing for cannabis as a part of its drug screening program. This excludes employees who fall under the regulation of the U.S. Department of Transportation, such as delivery drivers. Amazon is one of the nation’s largest employers, so to have them take this stand on cannabis is incredible. It could also prove greatly influential in the movement towards cannabis legalization.  

What does this mean for other workplaces? 

Even though there’s a slow shift in public opinion regarding cannabis, there are still regulations in place that restrict its usage. Many employers prohibit the consumption of cannabis. This is understandable if you are working a job where you cannot be intoxicated in any way, such as drivers or handlers of heavy machinery. 

Unfortunately, the way employers test for cannabis may not always provide clear results about someone’s use of cannabis. Cannabis does not behave similarly to alcohol, a substance that can be tested for when someone is intoxicated. An alcohol test will tell you if someone is currently intoxicated or not. Whereas with cannabis, which stays in your body for some time, you’ll test positive days after consuming. It may even stay in your hair for up to 90 days. 

In other words, cannabis workplace testing does not properly test if someone is currently impaired. This situation is unfair to those who smoke on their time off and not on company hours. 

Amazon Pushing for Cannabis Legalization through Lobbying

Amazon announced that its public policy team will be actively supporting The Marijuana Opportunity and Reinvestment And Expungement Act of 2021 (MORE Act). This is the federal legalization that would legalize marijuana at the federal level. Fortunately, this act also includes record expungement and investing in impacted communities. 

The MORE Act was reintroduced in May. Now, advocates are hopeful that Amazon will help push this bill into law. If passed and made into law, the MORE Act could change the market entirely. It would basically decriminalize cannabis at the federal level, making its status the same as alcohol. 

In an effort to achieve cannabis legalization, Amazon will take on different strategies. Mainly, the company will join social-justice organizations and drug-reform advocates in lobbying Congress. 

Amazon’s Economic Benefits of Cannabis Policy Reform

Amazon’s decision to actively stand behind the legalization of cannabis is significant. Not only will its lobbying and financial power provide pressure to pass the bill, but their work policies will have influence as well. 

By relaxing cannabis-related work policies, it will be able to expand its workforce. It will also allow for those who need to use cannabis for medical or personal reasons to earn a job. Especially during this point in history, post-covid, we’re seeing a hesitation of workers returning to jobs that aren’t personally or financially fulfilling. Changes to cannabis-related work policies make Amazon a fierce competitor against other companies for labor.