The good news for marijuana legalization fans is they have a big new supporter. The drive to legalize cannabis on a federal level just got a strong ally. Amazon states its public policy group will actively encourage national legislation to legalize marijuana at the national level and expunge all criminal records related to that.
In a blog post, CEO Dave Clark backed The Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement Act of 2021 (MORE Act). He stated Amazon would no longer display prospective employees for the usage of the medication.
Amazon will stop testing most job applicants for marijuana use in the most recent sign of America’s changing relationship with marijuana. Amazon, the second-largest private company in the US, also says it now supports legalizing marijuana nationally.
“In the past, like many companies, we have stopped people from working at Amazon if they found positive for marijuana use,” the firm said in a blog article. “But given where state laws are moving across the US, we have changed course.”
Marijuana users and supporters are cheering the news. However, it may also bring aid to Amazon’s hiring administrators: The business operates — and is quickly expanding into — areas where marijuana is legalized.
Amazon will no longer include marijuana in our comprehensive drug screening program for any places not governed by the Department of Transportation and will instead treat it the same as alcohol use.
The MORE action was introduced into the US House of Representatives last month. It suggests making recreational marijuana use legal in America on a national (rather than state) level and discharging those jailed on non-violent marijuana-related offenses.
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Amazon’s home state of Washington was one of the first in the nation to legalize marijuana for recreational use back in 2012. And the technology giant is currently constructing an East Coast headquarters in Virginia, where marijuana will get legal on July 1. In addition, it has been expanding in New York, which legalized marijuana at the end of March.
Before New York legalized marijuana, New York City banned prospective testing workers for marijuana, with a few exceptions. Based on that law, a New York guy sued Amazon in March, saying the company illegally reversed a hiring deal because he had tested positive for THC, the active ingredient in marijuana.
With the shift in coverage, the sole job candidates Amazon will display for bud are those applying for positions managed by the Department of Transportation — a category that includes delivery truck drivers and operators of heavy machinery. The business says it’ll handle marijuana the same way it deals with alcohol. It will still test for all drugs and alcohol after any accidents or other incidents.
Amazon is also acting on the governmental level, throwing its weight behind the drive to legalize marijuana in the US and delete criminal records for non-violent marijuana-related sentences.
The company says its public policy group”will be actively supporting” the MORE Act — the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement Act — a move that adds momentum to legislation that has been reintroduced in Congress on Friday.
The MORE Act would eliminate marijuana from drug listing in the Federal Controlled Substances Act, making its standing much like tobacco and alcohol. It would also tax cannabis products, designating some of the money toward investments in areas that have been affected by marijuana criminalization.
“We hope that other companies will join us and that policymakers will act quickly to pass this legislation,” Amazon said in a statement regarding its support for legal marijuana.
The expanding acceptance of marijuana has formed a booming cannabis industry, with legal sales making billions of dollars in earnings. Amazon’s move “indicates more favorable tailwinds for the industry at large,” according to Matt Hawkins, founder of Entourage Impact Capital, a cannabis investment company based in Dallas.
Noting Amazon’s standing among the largest employers in the Nation, Hawkins said, “It is enormous for the [cannabis] sector to have Amazon no more drug testing its employees for cannabis and to openly endorse” the MORE Act.
Laws banning marijuana “are liable for more than half a million arrests in the USA annually,” as per the Drug Policy Alliance, which also promotes decriminalization. In a statement to NPR, the group acclaimed Amazon’s statement as”a massive step forward.”
“Drug testing hasn’t provided a precise indication of a person’s ability to carry out their job,” the group stated,” and this incredibly invasive clinic has locked out countless people using drugs — both licit and illicit — in the office.”
The House supported the MORE Act in the last congressional session After Rep. Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., and almost 30 co-sponsors introduced it. Then-Sen. Kamala Harris announced a companion bill in the Senate, in which the laws stalled.
Currently, 16 states and the District of Columbia have completely legalized weed. Some others have decriminalized it. During the pandemic, marijuana sales skyrocketed, and on 4/20, the favorite holiday of marijuana enthusiasts, sales were expected to cross $95 million.
For many of us, the idea of national legalization is both promising and worrying. The identical pattern has performed in state after state–officials pass increasingly complex steps focused on economic equity and justice. The results don’t materialize, and the identical few Big Weed businesses largely gobble up the sector.
It’s still early enough to change course, but we can’t afford to make the same mistake at the national level. States such as Massachusetts and California are beginning to make incremental and fragile progress after five years of trying. That progress may easily be lost if national legalization clears the way for mega-corporations such as Uber and Amazon to get into the cannabis industry.
What, then, can we do? Congress should protect present state policies and incentivize the countries, our “laboratories of democracy,” to keep experimenting. As we monitor how diverse approaches are functioning, we can move away from platitudes and lip support and instead combine tangible elements of equity programs that offer real advantages to people harmed by the war on drugs. This slow and steady approach can notify a thoughtful, incremental strategy to permit interstate sales and licensing.
Several states have adopted concrete policies which build on past efforts. California and Massachusetts tried to perpetuate marijuana taxation to disproportionately harmed communities, but first efforts were shaky and dwarfed by big outlays to police authorities.
These encounters led Illinois, New York, and New Jersey to make clearer funding mechanisms to ensure that sizable portions of taxation revenue will be returned to harmed communities. Boston, Massachusetts, and Oakland, California set aside half of marijuana dispensary permits for individuals harmed by the war on drugs. Cambridge, Massachusetts, put aside all of them for the first couple of decades. Evanston, Illinois expressly uses marijuana tax earnings for reparations.
These examples were acknowledged by the patrons of the MORE Act when they comprised a new Opportunity Trust Fund, which would give funding for local job training, youth mentoring, legal aid, reentry, literacy, and health education programs for communities harmed by the war on drugs.
Citizens across the country are watching this unfold and moving racial and social justice to another level in new legalization laws. The team reclaims Rhode Island is pushing for worker-owned cannabis cooperatives to be guaranteed a portion of the marketplace in RI’s legalization law. Many people of color and working-class and previously incarcerated individuals collectively having a marijuana dispensary delivers much greater benefits than one individual from those communities conducting a traditional private organization.
Meanwhile, parts of this MORE Act can and should be passed immediately. Lawmakers should federally legalize cannabis possession, start automatic expungement of previous records and prevent discrimination against customers in regions like national benefit eligibility, employment, and law enforcement. It is a false dichotomy to indicate our only two options are to maintain incarcerating people for marijuana or to roll out a red carpet for national, big companies to take over the marketplace.
We only have one shot at getting this right. If we do not, the consequences will be devastating and hard to undo, not only for racial justice but for public health. Big tobacco is trying to replicate its playbook with cannabis, creating”science-driven” leading groups to influence national laws.
Schumer is wise when he states he won’t let “the major tobacco companies and the large liquor businesses to swoop in and take over,” and Congress should make a red line in almost any invoice. To do so, lawmakers must give states the time to implement equitable policies and protect against market domination by big tobacco and other bad actors in the meantime.
The war on drugs was an omnipresent tragedy supported by virtually unlimited resources that touch every part of our lives. We cannot expect to fix its damage with anything bigger in scale.