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Retail giant Amazon now supports legislation that would decriminalize cannabis at the national level. It also seeks to eliminate the legal hazards for businesses such as banks that work with cannabis businesses.
The decision to support the States Reform Act follows similar pro-cannabis actions taken by Amazon last year. The retail giant supported the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement Act of 2021 (MORE Act) and the Cannabis Administration and Opportunity Act.
Amazon attributed the support to the belief that current drug laws are not equitable. A statement from the company spoke about the disproportionate impact of drug laws on people of color.
“We strongly believe the time has come to reform the nation’s cannabis policy, and we are committed to helping lead the effort,” Amazon said, adding: “We are enthused by the notable momentum in the country toward recognizing that today’s status quo is unfair and untenable. We look forward to working with Congress and other supporters to secure necessary reform of the nation’s cannabis laws.”
Amazon is also allowing people fired for weed use to return
The announcement from Amazon comes after a 2021 decision by the company to no longer include marijuana on the list of drugs tested for in its pre-employment drug screening program (excluding positions regulated by the Department of Transportation, which mandates testing for marijuana).
They also went a step further, reinstating employment eligibility for former employees let go by the company in the past after testing positive for marijuana in random or pre-employment screenings. They applied the same policy to those who applied for a job but were rejected because of marijuana use.
The company gave three reasons for this move in 2021.
- With more states legalizing marijuana for recreational and medical use, it’s increasingly hard to develop a consistent and equitable drug policy.
- Pre-employment marijuana testing tends to impact people of color disproportionately.
- Amazon is growing fast and needs a large pool of qualified people to become “team members,” and testing for weed significantly reduces that pool.
Amazon maintains a “zero tolerance for impairment” while working. The company can still test employees involved in accidents or where “reasonable suspicion” exists that they are using marijuana on the job. Employees who test positive in these situations “would no longer be permitted to perform services for Amazon,” according to the company statement.
States Reform Act could lead to big changes
The States Reform Act, filed by Rep. Nancy Mace of South Carolina, calls for removing cannabis as a Schedule I drug. It also allows states to legalize cannabis as they see fit, with no concerns about federal oversight.
“Today, only three states lack some form of legal cannabis. My home state of South Carolina permits CBD, Florida allows medical marijuana, California and others have full recreational use, for example,” Mace said in a statement. “Every state is different. Cannabis reform at the federal level must take all of this into account. And it’s past time federal law codifies this reality.”
She also noted that the bill would promote criminal justice reform and allow businesses in the cannabis industry to work freely with banks and other service providers.