Amazon recently made a public pledge to relax its drug-testing protocols and support federal legalization efforts. Although the global conglomerate is far from the first company to relax its drug-testing stance towards cannabis, it is one of the biggest.
Amazon began by announcing in early June that it would no longer be testing for cannabis metabolites in its employee drug screening program for the positions that the US Department of Transportation doesn’t regulate. The company has also revealed that it would support the federal Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act. This bill was recently reintroduced with the goal of descheduling marijuana and reassessing some past cannabis-related convictions.What Does This Mean for the Future?
What this move will mean for cannabis reforms on a federal level and how much Amazon plans to invest in those efforts is still uncertain. Since their announcement in June, Amazon spokespeople have remained silent on that front.
From an employment perspective, having one of the largest employers on the globe take an accepting stance towards cannabis use in such a public manner may prove to have a powerful influence on other major companies. Particularly now, when companies are desperate for employees, having such a large company announce this may prove to be the leap of faith needed to get other global corporations onboard the cannabis acceptance bandwagon.
Social Impact and Public Opinion
Although public opinion towards cannabis use has become more tolerant and accepting in recent years, and many of the social stigmas that once existed around cannabis use are fading, many workplaces still need to catch up. The tide has begun to shift and more workplaces are changing their regulations and becoming more cannabis-friendly. Businesses in legal states begin to show more tolerance, particularly in recent months as more states embrace legalization.
The Effect of State Law
State laws have also shifted significantly. Over two-thirds of US states have laws supporting medical cannabis use, and 18 of those states have also approved recreational cannabis programs. In addition, the most recent poll from Gallup revealed that American support of cannabis legalization had reached an all-time high, with 68% of those polled revealing that they were in favor.
Around half the states with legalized medical cannabis have employment protections explicitly written into the law for medical cannabis patients. Other states such as New York and Nevada have statutes that limit the termination of employees for recreational use, but this protection varies widely from state to state.
Amazon’s move looks like it will represent the next step for cannabis acceptance in the workplace. Such a large and significant company taking this action so publicly sets a precedent other companies are likely to follow. Additionally, the motion is likely to improve public perception of marijuana use and increase its already growing public acceptance. Despite these positive impacts, whether this move will affect the process of federal legalization and decriminalization remains unclear.