The fifth largest employer in the world, Amazon, has announced that it would no longer take into account an applicant’s weed-smoking status during recruitment. This new policy came into effect on 1 June and covers the company’s operations in the United States of America.
Relaxed rules on drug consumption
Announcing this in a blogpost, Amazon’s CEO, Worldwide Consumer, Dave Clark said:
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.
The move, he said, was in tandem with the direction being taken by state laws on marijuana use across the country. The company is not just relaxing its rules on prospective employees smoking a spliff, it is going all out to support the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement Act of 2021 (the MORE Act).
If passed, this act which was reintroduced to the US Congress last week, will decriminalize marijuana use at the federal level. It would also lead to the expungement of criminal records involving the use of cannabis, ensure that people are not denied federal support based on their use of marijuana, and also investing funds from taxes imposed on cannabis in communities most impacted by existing criminalization laws.
Attracting more workers post-pandemic
Some industry observers see this softening of its policy on drug use as another way Amazon is trying to attract more workers into its warehouses in the midst of a post-pandemic labor shortage in the US.
In March, it announced a target to hire 75,000 new employees at an increased hourly rate of $17. It also offered signing bonuses of up to $1,000 in many of its locations in the US with an added incentive of $100 to new employees who are already vaccinated.
Only time will tell if these new measures will result in clearing up the rather poor reputation it has garnered among employees when it comes to working conditions. It would take more than being marijuana-friendly and raising wages to build trust among employees both current and prospective.