Former Amazon CEO and current Space Cowboy Jeff Bezos recently vowed to help make Amazon “Earth’s Best Employer“.  In more pertinent Leaflet news, the online retail behemoth recently announced that the company will no longer drug test potential employees for cannabis.  It also declared its support for cannabis reform and endorsed the MORE Act.  So what are we to make of Amazon’s grand cannabis gestures?  Well, like most things that Amazon does, its sudden passion for cannabis reform is both helpful, and self-serving.

(Giddy up.)

Let’s start with the helpful bit.  Amazon is now the nation’s second largest employer, with over half a million domestic employees.  So its decision will have a significant impact and will hopefully serve as a model for other companies that currently subject their employees to the pointless indignity of random drug tests.  Its support for cannabis reform at the federal level is also welcome.  Now for the self-serving part.  Late last year, in the throes of the pandemic, Michael Thomas interviewed for a job as a “Sorter Associate” to sort packages at Amazon’s fulfillment center in Staten Island.  On the day of his interview, the company made him a job offer contingent upon him passing a drug test.  After a month of radio silence, Thomas contacted Amazon and learned that his offer had been rescinded because the test had revealed low levels of THC in his blood.  Thomas responded by filing a class action lawsuit against Amazon seeking millions of dollars in damages.   Naturally, some folks now wonder whether Amazon’s shift in cannabis policy was less about being the best employer on earth, and more about heading off potential lawsuits.

Whatever Amazon’s motivations, its support for cannabis reform provides yet another sign of the accelerating shift in public opinion when it comes to cannabis.  Two in three Americans now support full legalization.  A recent study by the Pew Research Center shows that the number of “fans of the plant” nearly doubled between 2009 and 2019.  And a staggering 91 percent of Americans agree that marijuana should be legal for medical use.   All of which could mean that 2021 will mark a turning point in our national debate over cannabis.  If so, then Amazon may be catching the green wave just in the nick of time.

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