Amazon officially announced its support yesterday for a marijuana law reform bill aimed at federally legalizing weed sales and possession in states where its consumption is already allowed. The move comes shortly after the company also backed the expungement of past marijuana-related criminal convictions, as well as its public decision to end cannabis screening as part of its unregulated positions (i.e. most lower-level jobs unrelated to transportation).
“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,” Amazon says in yesterday’s PR statement, later adding that it is “enthused by the notable momentum in the country toward recognizing that today’s status quo is unfair and untenable.”
Although the move is a welcome step forward for destigmatization and more equal economic opportunities, don’t think Amazon is doing this out of the goodness of its AI-automated heart. As Bloomberg notes, the policy change can expand Amazon’s applicant pool by as much as 400 percent, something that surely appeals to the world’s second-largest corporation as it guns for that number-one spot.
Two steps forward, one step back — Another, perhaps more cynical way to view the new announcement (us? cynical? never) is that it gives thousands of people new opportunities for workforce exploitation. Despite all its public avowals, Amazon’s history of employee treatment ranges from troubling, to abhorrent, to absolutely shitty.
From privacy abuses to automation replacements, the company’s bottom line has always been its profit margins, and nothing else. Amazon could have voiced support for cannabis decriminalization and reform years ago, but is only doing so now once the topic has been focus tested to hell and back to ensure it’s the best strategic timing to do so.
Estimated time of reform arrival — So where do we go from here? While the Amazon-backed Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement Act of 2021 (MORE Act) passed in the House of Representatives earlier this year, it has yet to be examined by the Senate. With public and federal trends as they are, however, we’ll probably see some much overdue reforms in the near future. Rest assured, when that day finally does come, Amazon will be ready for it. At least, that’s what the company is banking on.