Amazon has confirmed it’s abandoning a controversial policy that saw workers screened for marijuana use, saying it will now move to treat the drug in the same way it does alcohol.
The company had previously asked potential employees to take drug tests, and had disqualified workers who tested positive for marijuana use, in what campaigners have described as a ‘discriminatory practice’ rooted in outdated policies introduced in the 1980s as part of the war on drugs.
The drug is currently legal for recreational use in 17 states, including Washington, where Amazon is headquartered.
CEO Dave Clark told employees in an email that the company’s drug testing policy was being changed in line with expanding moves to legalise marijuana across the United States.
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.
The decision comes as Amazon announced last night, June 1, it was backing new legislation to federally decriminalise marijuana.
The Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement Act of 2021, which was introduced in Congress this week, would see the drug legalised nationwide, and would also expunge all past convictions for marijuana-related offences. According to Forbes, as of last year an estimated 40,000 Americans were serving prison sentences for marijuana.
‘We know that this issue is bigger than Amazon,’ Clark wrote, adding, ‘We hope that other employers will join us, and that policymakers will act swiftly to pass this law.’
Responding to Amazon’s updated policy, Paul Armentano, deputy director of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, told Complex, ‘This decision is a reflection of today’s changing cultural landscape. Suspicionless marijuana testing in the workplace, such as pre-employment drug screening, is not now, nor has it ever been, an evidence-based policy.’
The news comes three months after Amazon was hit with a proposed class action lawsuit after a man claimed the company rescinded a job offer they had given him after he tested positive for marijuana, allegedly in violation of a New York City Human Rights Law that bans employers from drug testing applicants. Amazon have not commented on the lawsuit.
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Topics: News, Amazon, employment, Legalisation, Marijuana, Now, US