Amazon To Stop Testing Most Workers For Marijuana And Will Lobby Congress For Federal Legalization

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Amazon is further relaxing its screening policies for marijuana, as it ramps up support for federal legislation to legalize the drug.

In a blog post-Tuesday, September 21, 2021, Amazon HR boss Beth Galetti wrote that the company has “reinstated the employment eligibility” for former employees and applicants who were fired or deferred during random or pre-employment marijuana screenings.

“Pre-employment marijuana testing has disproportionately affected communities of color by stalling job placement and, by extension, economic growth, and we believe this inequitable treatment is unacceptable,” Galetti said.

Amazon first announced in June that it would no longer screen some of its workers for marijuana. The only job candidates Amazon will screen for the drug are those applying for positions regulated by the Department of Transportation, such as truck drivers and heavy equipment operators.

Amazon also said it would still do impairment checks on the job and will test for drugs and alcohol after any incident.

The company relaxed its marijuana standards after recognizing that a growing number of U.S. states are legalizing cannabis, Galetti said. It also realized that doing so would help it lure more job applicants in an increasingly tight labor market.

“Amazon’s pace of growth means that we are always looking to hire great new team members, and we’ve found that eliminating pre-employment testing for cannabis allows us to expand our applicant pool,” Galetti said.

Amazon, which has been on a hiring spree since the onset of the pandemic, has dangled a number of incentives in front of job applicants, such as hiring bonuses and free college tuition. In a further push to recruit workers, Amazon has been encouraging its network of contracted delivery firms to prominently advertise they don’t screen for marijuana use, according to Bloomberg.

Amazon is also lobbying the federal government to legalize marijuana. The company in June said it supports the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement Act, which aims to decriminalize cannabis at the federal level, expunge criminal records and invest in impacted communities.

On Tuesday, Galetti said Amazon recently endorsed a similar bill, called the Cannabis Administration and Opportunity Act. In a letter to lawmakers about the bill this month, Amazon urged Congress to expunge federal nonviolent marijuana crimes and allow for resentencing of any person serving time in federal prison for those crimes, while pushing states to take similar steps.

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