On June 1st, 2021, Dave Clark, Amazon’s CEO Worldwide Consumer, announced the company’s new corporate drug testing policies. The global conglomerate’s modified policies are part of Jeff Bezos’ “Earth’s Best Employer and Earth’s Safest Place to Work” initiative to improve Amazon’s working conditions.
Amazon’s decision to adopt new drug testing policies came shortly after the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement Act (the “MORE Act”) was reintroduced to the House of Representatives. In the statement, Amazon showcased its support for the bill’s success. The message issued on Amazon’s website is a monumental decision for workers’ rights and protections in the nation, as Amazon remains one of the United States’ largest employers. Below, we break down what this statement means for workers’ rights at Amazon regarding marijuana.
The Amazon Pledge and Modified Drug Testing Policies
In April of 2021, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos announced a new initiative to make Amazon “Earth’s Best Employer and Earth’s Safest Place to Work.” This statement came after Amazon faced public scrutiny when details about its working conditions were revealed. As part of Bezos’ initiative, Dave Clark announced that Amazon would modify its drug testing policies. In light of the sweeping wave of marijuana legalization across several states in the nation, Amazon will no longer include marijuana testing as part of the employee screening process. However, the employee screening process will test employees on all other drugs and substance usage.
In addition to its drug testing policy changes, Amazon pledged its support to the reintroduction of the MORE Act in its statement. Dave Clark stated that Amazon’s public policy team would back the bill’s approval. He highlighted that Amazon supports the bill’s intent to invest in communities affected by marijuana prohibition, eliminate criminal penalties, and expunge the criminal records of those affected by it. In a call to action, Clark encouraged other companies in the industry to join Amazon’s pledge; “[w]e hope that other employers will join us, and that policymakers will act swiftly to pass this law.”
Exceptions to the Rule
Amazon acknowledged that it used discriminatory practices against potential workers who tested positive for marijuana use in the past. While Amazon will no longer include marijuana in its drug screening process, this policy change does not affect all employees. Clark clarified in his statement that employees with positions regulated by the Department of Transportation are excluded from Amazon’s policy change.
Clark also announced that marijuana will now be treated “the same as alcohol use” at Amazon. His statement ensured that Amazon would continue to do impairment checks upon reasonable suspicion and after incidents that occur during work hours.
Chelsie Spencer is an attorney who specializes in cannabis and hemp business law. She provides extensive legal representation for a range of marijuana, hemp, and CBD businesses. Chelsie provides expertise in various legal fields, including hemp and marijuana law, commercial law, and copyright and trademark laws. Contact Ritter Spencer or call us at 214.295.5074 for more information.