Amid Hiring Spike in Dallas Area, Amazon Announces New Drug Testing Policy for Pot

The recent change in its pot policy is part of Amazon’s goal of being “Earth’s Best Employer,” in the wake of labor issues and efforts to unionize.
The recent change in its pot policy is part of Amazon’s goal of being “Earth’s Best Employer,” in the wake of labor issues and efforts to unionize. Jonathan Weiss/Shutterstock
Amazon, the second-largest employer in the country, now supports legalizing weed nationwide and says most job applicants will no longer be drug tested for cannabis. Certain employees regulated by the Department of Transportation, like delivery drivers, will still be tested.

The company said marijuana use will now be treated the same as alcohol use.

"In the past, like many employers, we've disqualified people from working at Amazon if they tested positive for marijuana use," Dave Clark, the company’s retail chief, wrote in a blog post last week. "However, given where state laws are moving across the U.S., we've changed course."

While Amazon won’t be testing these applicants for weed, they’ll continue impairment checks and test for all drugs and alcohol after any incident.

The company is a little late to the game on this considering weed has been legal in Washington, where Amazon is headquartered, since 2012. Nevertheless, it will be a big change for job seekers in Texas who consume marijuana or legal cannabis products like delta-8 and delta-10 THC, which can still show up on a drug test.

Amazon has been pumping jobs into the Dallas market. Most recently, the company announced it would hire 2,800 people in the Dallas-Fort Worth area for the summer shopping season, according to The Dallas Morning News. Last year, Amazon nearly doubled its Texas workforce, raising it to more than 72,000 employees.

The recent change in its policy is part of Amazon’s goal of being “Earth’s best employer” in the wake of labor issues and a wave of efforts to unionize.

Just a few months ago, Amazon was sued by an applicant in New York after they were denied a job because they failed a drug test for weed, according to the New York Daily News. Michael Thomas was offered a job paying over $17 an hour at Amazon’s Staten Island warehouse in November last year. But the company revoked their offer after THC showed up in Thomas’ system.

"We've changed course." – Dave Clark, Amazon

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It’s kind of a special case because New York City’s human rights law prohibits employers from drug testing applicants for marijuana except for certain positions, such as one that requires operating heavy machinery. Thomas wasn’t applying for such a position. The suit was filed as a possible class action and notes that more than 100 individuals were denied jobs at Amazon for the same reason as Thomas.

Nevada has a similar law barring employers from considering pre-employment marijuana tests, but Texas doesn't. Still, there’s next to no restrictions on the right of private employers to adopt drug and alcohol testing policies for their workers under state or federal law, according to the Texas Workforce Commission.

Amazon's Clark also announced that their policy team would be “actively supporting” a bill that would federally legalize marijuana.

The Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act of 2021 was reintroduced on May 28 after dying in the Senate last year. If passed, marijuana would be removed from the list of controlled substances. The bill would also send investments to communities disproportionately affected by the “drug war.”

"We hope that other employers will join us, and that policymakers will act swiftly to pass this law," Clark said.

Amazon’s move sent cannabis stocks for companies such as Sundial Growers and Tilray up an additional 12-13%, according to Nasdaq. Some are speculating the recent moves indicate the company wants in on the cannabis business.

“If [the MORE Act] passes, will Amazon start selling weed?” Bruce Barcott, a columnist for the cannabis site Leafly, wrote. “Of course Amazon will start selling weed.”
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Jacob Vaughn, a former Brookhaven College journalism student, has written for the Observer since 2018, first as clubs editor. More recently, he's been in the news section as a staff writer covering City Hall, the Dallas Police Department and whatever else editors throw his way.
Contact: Jacob Vaughn