The online commerce and distribution giant Amazon has long been a fervent opponent of cannabis, going so far as to test employees before hiring them. Sensing the shift in public opinion, and legal status, they have been quick to adapt. Now Amazon is actually lobbying for two pieces of legislation aimed at greater legalization and formalization of the cannabis market in the US.
In a blog post, Amazon has announced that it is lobbying to support two pieces of legislation in favor of cannabis users. The firm’s objective? To recruit more and more employees.
For a long time, the e-commerce giant has categorically refused to accept people who smoke cannabis, even going so far as to carry out tests before hiring. But that’s all over now ! Now the company has gone so far as to actually promote legislation that favors cannabis users.
Amazon Ended Cannabis Testing in June
In June 2021 Amazon changed course by announcing the end of pre-employement cannabis testing. “We have also reinstated employment eligibility for former employees and applicants who had been terminated or whose employment had been deferred during random or pre-employment testing for marijuana,” writes the company, which further explains that it took this decision following the evolution of US legislation, and as more and more states legalize the substance.
The company also cites social motivations to justify its decision: “Pre-employment cannabis testing has disproportionately affected communities of color by delaying job placement and, by extension, economic growth, and we believe this inequitable treatment is unacceptable.”
Amazon has also realized that its former policy against cannabis users has penalized it: since it stopped testing, the number of applicants for some jobs has increased by up to 400%.
Amazon supports pro-cannabis legislation
As the second largest employer in the US behind its big competitor Walmart, Amazon wants to become the world’s largest employer. To achieve this, the online retail behemoth needs to have access to as many job applicants as possible, and must therefore put pressure on legislators to do so. This is why the company will support a law to tax cannabis, making it legal at the federal level in states where its use is already permitted.
As a second step, the company is supporting another piece of legislation that has yet to be approved by the Senate, which would erase cannabis offenses from convicted offenders. Earlier this month, Amazon wrote a letter to a senator to remove marijuana from the Controlled Substance Act, a law that classifies recreational drugs as illegal. The firm believes this will “open up significant new economic opportunities for millions of capable people while beginning to undo some of the damage done to heavily impacted communities”.
Amazing Hiring Practices Beyond Hemp
Of course, this lobbying is not insignificant for the company, which is seeking to grow even more, even though it has already been greatly strengthened by the COVID-19 pandemic. Amazon remains under fire for its treatment of employees, with many complaining that quotas are far too strict.
In terms of pay, the firm pays its warehouse workers $15 per hour. While this is almost double the minimum wage in the US, and much higher than some retail jobs, it is still below market norms for warehouse workers, who were paid between $17.5 and $24 an hour in some states before Amazon arrived.
(Featured image Bryan Angelo cannabis via Unsplash)
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Arturo Garcia started out as a political writer for a local newspaper in Peru, before covering big-league sports for national broadsheets. Eventually he began writing about innovative tech and business trends, which let him travel all over North and South America. Currently he is exploring the world of Bitcoin and cannabis, two hot commodities which he believes are poised to change history.