Amazon’s Jeff Bezos just went to space. Now his company looks poised to embark on a new frontier—marijuana legalization.
It was just last month that Amazon officially announced that it was doing away with drug screening for pot, while also throwing its support behind proposed legislation that would finally legalize weed on the federal level. And now, there are mounting signs that the world’s largest online retailer is ready to put its ample financial resources behind the effort.
In a story published on Tuesday, Politico reported that legalization lobbyists “are pinning their hopes on Amazon using its experienced lobbying team and deep pockets to support their efforts, believing it could help them launch ad campaigns and persuade lawmakers opposed to legalization—especially those who represent states where cannabis is legal—to change their minds.”
“Cannabis lobbyists and advocates who have spoken with Amazon made it clear that the company is already engaging in cannabis discussions in Washington, D.C,” the report said. “Whether Amazon actively lobbies or invests monetarily in legislation is the question on everyone’s minds.”
The report went on to say that there are some indications that Amazon “is interested in trying to convince other companies and Congress to support legalization,” with a “number of advocacy and industry groups, including Drug Policy Alliance, the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws and Canopy Growth Inc., [having] reported meeting with Amazon officials in the past month to discuss federal marijuana policy.”
Amazon Has its Skeptics
Politico reported that the cannabis industry and other legalization advocates are not totally on board with Amazon’s entry into the movement, with some telling the publication that “the money and influence Amazon could bring to the issue could be a big help to a still-underfunded lobbying effort,” although there is “also some trepidation that Amazon’s involvement indicates it actually plans to enter the industry in some way, and that it could influence federal legislation to be friendlier for big corporations.”
Amazon announced its shift in drug testing policy and its support for the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement Act of 2021 (MORE Acct), a legalization proposal introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives, in a blog post last month by Dave Clark, the company’s worldwide consumer CEO.
“In the past, like many employers, we’ve disqualified people from working at Amazon if they tested positive for marijuana use,” Clark wrote. “However, given where state laws are moving across the U.S., we’ve changed course. We will no longer include marijuana in our comprehensive drug screening program for any positions not regulated by the Department of Transportation, and will instead treat it the same as alcohol use. We will continue to do impairment checks on the job and will test for all drugs and alcohol after any incident.”
He continued: “And because we know that this issue is bigger than Amazon, our public policy team will be actively supporting The Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement Act of 2021 (MORE Act)—federal legislation that would legalize marijuana at the federal level, expunge criminal records and invest in impacted communities. We hope that other employers will join us, and that policymakers will act swiftly to pass this law.”
The MORE Act was reintroduced in the House in late May; it had previously passed the chamber in December of 2020 but stalled in the Senate.
Brought by House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler, the bill would “decriminalize and deschedule cannabis,” while also “[providing] for reinvestment in certain persons adversely impacted by the War on Drugs, [and] for expungement of certain cannabis offenses, and for other purposes.”