When the internet marketplace Amazon lobbies to legalize a product, one comes to think that it could see 'big bucks' through its sale. However, in stark contrast to its employee-unfriendly policies, Amazon wants the federal government to legalize weed so that it can make its workforce more diverse and equitable, the company claimed in a blog post.
The topic of usage and sale of marijuana or cannabis in the U.S. is quite complicated. Although it is a federal crime to consume or possess the substance, a fair number of states have been liberal enough to allow recreational use of the drug. Scientific studies have shown that the use of marijuana negatively affects attention and memory, thereby affecting learning outcomes. At workplaces, marijuana users had 55 percent more accidents, 85 percent more prone to injuries, and 75 percent more likely to be absent, when compared to their peers, who did not use marijuana. These studies prompted employers to undertake a pre-employment screening for marijuana use.
However, the legalization of cannabis in many states renders pre-employment screening useless. Beth Galetti, Senior Vice President of Human Resources at Amazon, said in the blog post that the company dropped the screening from its recruiting process in June this year. She also told Bloomberg that this move increased its application pool, which also included driver listings, by as much as 400 percent.
The recent blog post clarifies that positions regulated by the Department of Transportation would not be exempt from this screening but also went on to say that the testing "disproportionately impacts people of color and acts as a barrier to employment." Known for introducing robots for a wide range of applications, Amazon still is heavily reliant on the human workforce and is the second-largest employer in the U.S. after Walmart.
Employee shortages have marred businesses in the U.S. and Europe but Amazon's lobbying is not just myopic. The company has also voiced support for the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement Act of 2021 (MORE Act) that legalizes cannabis at a federal level and paves the way for removing criminal records for users. In the past, the company has terminated employment for workers who have used marijuana but are now willing to rehire them as part of their new relaxed policy.
Amazon is doing this to fulfill its vision of becoming the 'Best Employer' on Earth, the blog post said. Yes, you read that right. But, to do that, the company needs to do much more to improve employee freedom inside its workspaces than just backing recreation outside.