Marijuana use is always surrounded by some or the other controversy and it’s set to remain like that until full legalization is achieved. People have used it in the treatment of several diseases. Then it got banned and then again got reinstated again after scientists proved its many medicinal benefits. As of today, several states have legalized the use of both recreational and medicinal marijuana although it isn’t approved at the federal level yet.
Because of this, people who apply for jobs must undergo testing for marijuana use. A positive result may result in the applicant getting disregarded for the job. There is now an effort to legalize marijuana at the federal level – a move that will eliminate the testing of applicants for most jobs in the US for cannabis use. Online marijuana retailers and cannabis packaging, particularly Amazon, announced on Tuesday that it will support cannabis legalization. On June 1, CEO Dave Clark published a blog post that contained these policy changes.
Dave Clark, the CEO of the worldwide consumer business of Amazon released a statement that made the headlines. It was about the legalization of marijuana and eliminating marijuana testing on prospective employees. According to Clark, they will adjust their drug testing policy. Just like other employers, Amazon has disqualified individuals from working at the company in the past if they have a positive result in their drug test.
But since state laws regarding marijuana use have changed across the US, the company has decided to change course too. They won’t include marijuana testing in their comprehensive drug screening program for positions that aren’t under the Department of Transportation. Instead, they will treat this in the same way as alcohol use. Amazon will continue to perform impairment checks on its employees. They will perform tests for alcohol and drugs when an incident occurs.
Clark also stated that they know that this issue is much bigger than Amazon. Their public policy team will actively support the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement Act of 2021 (MORE Act). This federal legislation will legalize marijuana at the federal level, invest in impacted communities, and expunge criminal records. Clark hopes that other companies’ employers will join Amazon and that the policymakers will act quickly for this law to pass. The move made by Amazon may set a precedent for other employers to follow suit. Amazon has set the bar and everyone is now waiting for how other companies will respond.
A very vocal position
In the past, people who applied for jobs at Amazon wondered if Amazon tested for marijuana. Although it still isn’t clear as to how much of an impact Amazon will have in the public-policy scene, the vocal pronouncements of the company show that it recognizes that public sentiment firmly supports legalization. Around 68% of Americans support this legalization and this will add more pressure on federal lawmakers. People also wonder if Amazon will engage itself in selling marijuana should it become federally legal. Since Amazon is one of the most powerful online retailers, deciding to sell marijuana online might have significant implications for physical cannabis shops.
Also, Amazon’s announcement got applauded in a Twitter post by Ben Kovler, the founder and CEO of Green Thumb Industries. Other advocates in the industry also endorse the declaration of Amazon. For one, Kassandra Frederique, the chief executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance in New York also gave Amazon praises for its support. According to Kassandra the announcement made by Amazon is “a huge step forward.” She also urged other employers “to take note and follow suit.” On the 28th of May, Jerry Nadler, the US House Judiciary Chair reintroduced the MORE Act, with the hope that the Democratic control of Congress will end marijuana prohibition.
After the last elections, the Democrats have gained control of the upper chamber. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer from New York spearheads the effort in the Senate to reform the federal marijuana policy and we expect a comprehensive bill to get introduced soon.
Amendments to Amazon’s Employee Productivity Policy
The announcements that Clark made regarding the changes to the Amazon drug test for marijuana and the work environment that governs employee productivity have attracted comments from critics. They say that this decision may result in higher employee dissatisfaction and unsafe conditions in the workplace. The policy called the “Time off Task”, will track when employees at a fulfillment center of Amazon log into the software tools while in the workplace.
Clark says that the main objective of this system is to pinpoint operational issues using the technology tools that the employees use to perform their tasks at work. The system was also designed to identify employees who don’t perform up to the standard. Clark also acknowledged that there are several valid reasons for employees to log out of their software tools. As such, Amazon needs to revise the way it analyzes data.
Clark stated that Amazon is now averaging Time off Task over a longer period to make sure that there is less noise and more signal to reinforce the program’s original intent. Amazon will also focus the system’s conversations on how they can help their employees. The goal is to focus on the situations where there are “real” operational problems to resolve. Clark believes that this change will help them make sure the Time off Task policy will serve its main purpose.
These announcements drew plenty of reactions from those in the cannabis community, most of which are largely positive. Some social media users have said that Amazon has a policy that will make hiring more challenging while gaining leverage over marijuana legalization to gain economic advantages.
Urging other companies to show support too
Kassandra Frederique is one of the many advocates against marijuana testing. According to her, it’s time to finally end the counterproductive practice. Kassandra also urges the House to pass the MORE Act quickly without the provision that excludes the drug testing protections for federal workers. That way, they can start working on passing marijuana justice in the Senate too.
The Marijuana Policy Project also praised Amazon for supporting the MORE Act and the company’s to get rid of marijuana testing. Matthew Schweich, the deputy director of the MPP said that the decision Amazon made will have a big impact. Disqualifying potential employees who use cannabis is both bad for business and old-fashioned. Adults shouldn’t get punished for using cannabis responsibly while not at work.