The legalisation of cannabis has secured a powerful ally in the shape of the e-commerce giant Amazon. In May 2021, it announced that it supports a cannabis legalisation bill introduced to the US House of Representatives at the end of last month. It also declared that it changed its drug testing policy and no longer rejects people who have used cannabis.
Dave Clark heads Amazon’s global consumer division. In a recent blog post, he wrote that Amazon had changed its view of cannabis now that 17 states permit its recreational use and more than 30 permit medicinal use. Cannabis is no more included in drug screening programmes for positions not regulated by the Department of Transportation. (This covers delivery truck drivers, operators of heavy machinery and the like.) Drugs and alcohol will continue to be tested for after any incident. This is a significant reduction in stigma.
Clark also wrote of how Amazon’s support had gone as far as Washington. It is “actively supporting” the Marijuana Opportunity Re-investment and Expungement Act of 2021 (the More Act). This was introduced to the House of Representatives by Jerry Nadler, the Democrat from New York who chairs the House Judiciary Committee. This would make cannabis legal at the federal level by removing it from the Controlled Substances Act. The criminal records of non-violent cannabis-related crimes would also be expunged.
Amazon is pretty big. It’s the second-largest private employer in the United States and the third largest in the world. But this isn’t the first time a major company has come out in support of cannabis legalisation. Last April, Dara Khosrowshahi, the CEO of Uber, stated that his company would deliver cannabis when federal law allows it.
It looks like the path to cannabis legalisation is to enlist the support of big business. When these companies appreciate that they would benefit, their support will drive policy decisions. In the United States, their lobbying power far exceeds that of the legal cannabis industry. It’s the market that dictates what is and isn’t allowed.
Leafly is a leading pro-cannabis website. One comment there read that the idea of Amazon drones dropping cannabis on the front porches of the United States scares not only “old-time prohibitionists” but also cannabis retailers. But while Amazon supports cannabis legalisation, it won’t sell it just yet. It already steers clear of cigarettes, and this market is large. Many feared Amazon’s recent entry into the alcohol market, but, as Leafly noted, this has not met with unbridled success. Amazon will be deterred by the issue of quality, freshness in particular. But at least this latest news is positive for Amazon. It makes a change from tales of workers facing severe time constraints peeing in bottles.