Amazon started June off with a huge announcement. In a blog post by CEO Dave Clark, Amazon stated that they were changing their position on legal cannabis. The announcement left many in the cannabis industry elated, and others wondering what tricks Amazon has up its sleeve.
According to Amazon's statement, "In the past, like many employers, we’ve disqualified people from working at Amazon if they tested positive for marijuana use. 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."
This change in direction benefits the thousands of workers who use cannabis for various reasons. With legal cannabis in the majority of US states, this kind of action was overdue. However, the next statement in the blog has been causing debate among those in the industry.
Amazon's statement reads, "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."
On the surface level, this is great news. Having a corporation such as Amazon backing federally legal cannabis legislation is a massive win for the industry. It helps level the playing field against anti-cannabis propaganda.
Unfortunately, one has to consider the motives behind Amazon's change of heart. Cannabis legalization is no new legal battle, so why are they choosing to throw their hat in the ring now that the scales are tipping in favor of federal legalization?
Amazon is known for being able to beat competitor's prices and deliver packages with astonishing speed. If cannabis becomes federally legal, it opens a pathway for Amazon to enter the market. While this may sound good on the surface, it raises a lot of concerns.
First and foremost is quality. Everyone who has used Amazon knows there are some shady third party retailers that use Amazon to sell poor quality products. Who's to say this won't happen with cannabis?
It also damages small businesses within the industry. Many cannabis businesses are small operations. Because Amazon would be able to cut costs based on quantity, it sets up small businesses to appear more expensive. When in reality, quantity does not mean quality. Even if Amazon were to begin marketing their own cannabis line, the quality of the cannabis would still be in question. After all, Amazon is in the business of selling what people looking for a deal and expediency, not quality cannabis.
Make no mistake, Amazon's support of legal cannabis has both its pros and its cons. Having a giant like Amazon in our corner is a huge win, but it comes with its concerns. Why Amazon has had this change of mine should be the question on everyone's mind.