No matter your feelings about Amazon, and personally I try my best to support local businesses (just as Oregonians should support craft cannabis boutiques like Kind Leaf), the company’s announcement that it supports legalization and will stop drug testing for cannabis is a HUGE development for our movement for freedom and equality. It’s often said that federal legalization is inevitable and I often don’t like using such definitive language because it implies that activists across the country don’t have to work as hard anymore. Well, we still have to work extremely hard to legalize “the right way” but Amazon jumping on the bandwagon certainly makes ending prohibition as inevitable as it ever has been.
In addition to Amazon’s lobbying influence to change the law, its decision to end drug testing for cannabis will inevitably resonate across different business sectors and we can expect more employers to follow suit. While this game changing announcement by Amazon adds to our political and cultural momentum, it actually makes it even more imperative that advocates double down on important social justice and equity provisions that clear records, open up job opportunities, and allow for small businesses to thrive. On one hand, it’s great to have a financial behemoth like Amazon on your side, but if they are gonna enter the industry, we can expect that they will be pushing for laws and regulations that benefit their bottom line.
Amazon made their new cannabis announcement within a message to their employees titled, “Update on our vision to be Earth’s Best Employer and Earth’s Safest Place to Work“:
“In the past, like many employers, we’ve disqualified people from working at Amazon if they tested positive for marijuana use. However, given where state laws are moving across the U.S., we’ve changed course. We will no longer include marijuana in our comprehensive drug screening program for any positions not regulated by the Department of Transportation, and will instead treat it the same as alcohol use. We will continue to do impairment checks on the job and will test for all drugs and alcohol after any incident.
“And because we know that this issue is bigger than Amazon, our public policy team will be actively supporting The Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement Act of 2021 (MORE Act)—federal legislation that would legalize marijuana at the federal level, expunge criminal records, and invest in impacted communities. We hope that other employers will join us, and that policymakers will act swiftly to pass this law.”
The online retailer’s decision to actively support the MORE Act, which includes restorative justice and equitable provisions that clear criminal records and invests in communities harmed by the Drug War, should add fuel to the fire of advocates working to implement legalization fairly, even in states like Oregon that have already ended prohibition within its borders. Eliminating stigmatizing convictions combined with crucial investments and ending cannabis drug testing are all important steps forward towards true freedom and equality for the cannabis community. We’ve taken another step forward in our political and cultural battle, but we can’t let up. Let’s legalize the right way, paving the way for economic opportunities for everyday Americans, and not just the Jeff Bezos of the world.
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