- Amazon has "reinstated the employment eligibility" for workers and applicants it fired or deferred because of marijuana screenings, the company said in a Sept. 21 news release.
- The announcement followed the company's June policy update, which brought news that Amazon would "no longer include marijuana in [its] comprehensive drug screening program."
- The changes were motivated by a number of social and business factors, Amazon said. Due to the increase in cannabis legalization in the U.S., the company found it difficult to implement a pre-employment marijuana testing program that was "equitable, consistent, and national." Amazon said it also found that the policy shrunk its talent pool.
As one of the nation's largest employers, Amazon is by virtue a trend setter. Even so, the news that the company would treat marijuana the same as alcohol is surprising, one management-side attorney told HR Dive in June. The change could push other employers to be more lax about marijuana testing in future, he added, especially given the changing legislation across the country.
That Amazon may reinstate those dismissed due to marijuana use may signal the strength of the company's commitment to this change and other policy updates driven by social trends.
The e-commerce giant introduced, for example, a "comprehensive program" aimed at boosting employee health and safety and reducing risk of injury. It included the setup of AmaZen stations, one-person kiosks designated for employees to focus on their mental and emotional health.
The kiosks generated outcry, however, prompting onlookers to compare the wellness stations to phone booths, storage closets and portable toilets. The online mockery and rage called to mind other moments in Amazon's history when workers and observers have questioned the company's commitment to its workers' good.
For instance, Amazon allegedly fired a number of employees who spoke out against warehouse conditions during the COVID-19 pandemic. The firings were prompted by a petition asking for protections and provisions for workers; ultimately, the firings led to the resignation of Tim Bray, Amazon Web Services vice president and engineer.