Amazon will stop testing job seekers for marijuana and is now backing legalization of cannabis – Free Press of Jacksonville
(Source: www.npr.org) – By BILL CHAPPELL – Twitter – Amazon will stop testing most applicants for marijuana use as it is the latest sign of America’s changing relationship with cannabis. Amazon, the second largest private employer in the United States, also says it is now backing national marijuana legalization.
“In the past, like many employers, we have banned people from working at Amazon if they tested positive for marijuana,” the company said in a blog post on Tuesday. “But since the laws of the states in the US move, we’ve changed our course.”
Amazon operates – and is expanding rapidly – in places where marijuana is legal. Steven Senne / AP
Marijuana users and advocates are cheering the news, but it could also bring relief to Amazon’s hiring managers: The company operates – and is expanding rapidly – in places where marijuana is legal.
Amazon’s home state of Washington was one of the first in the country to legalize recreational marijuana back in 2012. And the tech giant is now building a headquarters on the east coast in Virginia, where weed will become legal on July 1st. It’s also expanding in New York, which legalized marijuana in late March.
Even before New York legalized marijuana, New York City, with a few exceptions, prohibited testing potential employees for marijuana. Based on that law, a New York man sued Amazon in March, saying the company illegally canceled a job offer for testing positive for THC, the active ingredient in marijuana.
With the policy change, the only job candidates Amazon screens for marijuana will become those applying for jobs regulated by the Department of Transportation – a category this includes delivery truck drivers and heavy machinery operators. The company says it will handle marijuana the same way it does alcohol – and will continue to test for all drugs and alcohol after accidents or other incidents.
Amazon is also politically active, backing pressure to legalize marijuana in the US and clear criminal records for non-violent convictions related to marijuana.
The company says its public policy team will “actively support” the MORE Act – the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement Act – a move that will kickstart the legislation reinstated in Congress on Friday.
The MORE law would Remove marijuana from the list of drugs in federal controlled substances law, making it similar to alcohol and tobacco. It would also tax cannabis products and use some of that money to invest in communities harmed by the criminalization of marijuana.
“We hope other employers will join us and that policy makers will act quickly to pass this bill,” Amazon said in a statement of its support for legal marijuana.
The growing adoption of marijuana has created a booming cannabis industry, whose legal sales are grossing billions of dollars. According to Matt Hawkins, founder of Entourage Effect Capital, a Dallas-based cannabis investment firm, “Amazon is signaling more positive tailwind for the sector as a whole.”
Regarding Amazon’s position as one of the largest employers in the country, Hawkins says, “It’s huge for them [cannabis] Industry to get Amazon to stop testing its employees for cannabis and to publicly endorse the MORE Act.
Laws banning marijuana “account for more than half a million arrests in the United States each year,” according to the Drug Policy Alliance, which also supports decriminalization. In a statement to NPR, the group welcomed Amazon’s announcement as “a big step forward”.
“Drug testing has never given an accurate indication of a person’s ability to do their job,” the group said, “yet this incredibly invasive practice has excluded millions of people who use both legal and illegal drugs from the workplace. “
The House of Representatives approved the MORE Act in the previous congressional session after Rep. Jerry Nadler, DN.Y., and nearly 30 co-sponsors introduced it. Then-Sen. Kamala Harris tabled an accompanying bill in the Senate that stalled legislation.