The United States of America does not seem to be united when it comes to the issue of cannabis legalization. The recreational use of Cannabis is legalized in 18 states and the rest still criminalizes it. Whether weed should be legalized or not has been a matter of debate in the states for decades.
But now a private company has advocated for the legalization of marijuana. Amazon's Senior Vice President of Human Resources published a blog on Tuesday lobbying for weed legalization.
What is the status of weed legalization in America?
The possession and use of cannabis are illegal in the United States federal law for all purposes. This law falls under the Controlled Substance Act of 1970. According to CSA, cannabis falls under ‘Schedule 1’ substance. Substances in this schedule have no currently accepted medical use in the United States, a lack of accepted safety for use under medical supervision, and a high potential for abuse.
However, at the state level policies concerning the medical and recreational use of marijuana vary considerably, and in many states conflict significantly with federal law. The recreational use of cannabis is legalized in 18 states. The medical use of cannabis is legal, with a doctor's recommendation, in 36 states.
What has Amazon said?
The Senior Vice President of Human Resources at Amazon, Beth Galetti wrote a post saying " We are enthused by the notable momentum in the country toward recognizing that today’s status quo is unfair and untenable. We look forward to working with Congress and other supporters to secure necessary reform of the nation’s cannabis laws."
The post directly implies that amazon is lobbying the federal government to pass a bill that would make it federally legal in states that have already legalized cannabis. The company also said it would continue to support legislation that would expunge marijuana offenses from people who have been previously convicted of cannabis-related offenses. "Amazon recently announced our support for and began actively lobbying on, the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement Act of 2021 (MORE Act). We are also pleased to endorse the recently introduced Cannabis Administration and Opportunity Act" said the company in the post.
The company also informed that they are excluding marijuana from their comprehensive pre-employment drug screening program. This exclusion of marijuana from the screening program will apply only to positions that are not regulated by the Department of Transportation and other government bodies.
Furthur in the continuation company published, "We also reinstated the employment eligibility for former employees and applicants who were previously terminated or deferred during random or pre-employment marijuana screenings."
Why is Amazon lobbying for this cause?
The company informed that there are three reasons for which they are supporting weed legalization.
The first reason that the company gave was that an increasing number of states that are moving to some level of cannabis legalization is making it difficult for the company to implement an equitable, consistent, and national pre-employment marijuana testing program.
The second reason given was that people of color are among the most affected due to this screening process. "publicly available national data indicates that pre-employment marijuana testing disproportionately impacts people of color and acts as a barrier to employment.", told the company.
Amazon is one of the largest private-sector employers in the United States. With the size of the company growing every day, it is always looking to hire great new team members. They said that eliminating pre-employment testing for cannabis allows them to expand their applicant pool. In fact, After Amazon suspended screening new hires for cannabis use, applications for some positions have grown by as much as 400 percent.
The cannabis drug test is a big stress for the companies in America. They lose some of their best employees due to this test. About 2.7 percent of the approximately 7 million drug tests Quest conducted on behalf of employers in 2020 came back positive for marijuana—up from 2.5 percent in 2019 and 2 percent in 2016.
Overall, the percentage of U.S. workers testing positive for drugs was 4.4 percent, down slightly from 2019 (4.5 percent), when the rate of positive drug tests hit its highest level in 16 years.
Not just Amazon, plenty of companies have reported that testing employees for cannabis have made it incredibly hard to hire good employees. Interestingly FBI has also reported that it has become hard for them to hire new hackers because most of them smoke weed.