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Amazon announces support for cannabis legalisation

Online retail giant Amazon has said it supports US legislation to legalise cannabis at the federal level and will be dropping drug testing for some employees.

In a blog post on Tuesday 1 June, Amazon consumer boss Dave Clark said the company would be “actively supporting” The Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement Act of 2021 (MORE Act), which seeks to legalise cannabis at federal level.

The firm will also be adjusting its drug testing policy. 

It will no longer include cannabis in its drug-screening program for any recruitments outside of the Department of Transportation and cannabis would be treated the “same as alcohol use”.

In response to the news, Matthew Schweich, deputy director at the Marijuana Policy Project, the nation’s leading cannabis policy reform organisation, said it would have a “huge impact”.

“Disqualifying potential employees for cannabis use is both outdated and bad for business. Adults should not be punished for responsibly using cannabis outside of the workplace. It simply does not make sense for law-abiding citizens to be denied employment or risk losing their jobs over a substance that is safer than alcohol,” Schweich commented.

“Amazon’s support for the MORE Act is yet another sign that the American people — and the American business community — back federal cannabis reform that begins to rectify the harms of cannabis prohibition by prioritising social justice and social equity. 

He added: “The Biden administration and Congressional leaders must take action this year.”

To date more than 35 states have passed independent legislation to legalise the plant, but it remains illegal at the federal level.

Rahul Bhushan, co-founder of London-based investment firm Rize ETF, said the move would “open up the cannabis market” and provide “new growth opportunities” for companies in the US.

“We believe other employers are going to jump on this bandwagon, following Amazon’s lead,” he said.

“We know the Biden administration is committed to cannabis reform, and we know it has a more favourable stance on cannabis than the previous administration. It’s only fair that market participants are expecting deep and system-wide cannabis reform because they know this will create a boom for cannabis businesses.”

Bhushan added that within a few years, the US market could be “more than a decade” ahead of the UK where reform appears to have reached a “stalemate”.

“We expect the UK to lose this footing in the coming months because of the (current) national stalemate around cannabis reform,” he said.

“We expect the US market to power full steam ahead and – within a few years – be at least a decade ahead of Europe, because the market is growing at breakneck speed thanks to the state-level initiatives.”

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