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Amazon Drops Marijuana Screening, Supports Federal MORE Act

Amazon Drops Marijuana Screening, Supports Federal MORE Act
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Amazon is adjusting its drug testing policy for US field operations teams and will no longer test marijuana in many circumstances, according to a June 1 announcement.

“In the past, like many employers, we have disqualified people from working for Amazon if they tested positive for marijuana use,” said Dave Clark, CEO of Amazon Retail. “However, due to where state laws are moving across the United States, we have changed course. We will no longer include marijuana in our comprehensive drug screening program for any positions not regulated by the Department of Transportation, and instead will treat it in the same way as alcohol use. “.

Clark said the online retail giant will continue to monitor for vulnerability on the job and run drug and alcohol tests after the incident.

Additionally, Amazon’s public policy team will support the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Deletion (More) Act, which would legalize marijuana at the federal level. “We hope that other employers will join us, and policy makers will move quickly to get this law passed,” Clark said.

Although all marijuana uses remain illegal at the federal level, at least 36 states have legalized medical use and 16 of those states have passed laws permitting recreational use. (Courts have suspended a medical law in Mississippi and an entertainment law in South Dakota.)

Employers should note that cannabis laws in some states include workplace protections. “With the further legalization of marijuana use, companies with operations across multiple states will have to re-evaluate their workplace policies, as well as whether it is feasible to continue spending resources on drug testing,” said Michael Freeman, an attorney at Greenspun. Marder in Denver.

Congress considers federal legalization

Marijuana is still listed as a Schedule I drug under the Federal Controlled Substances Act, which means it has a high potential for abuse and no medicinal value.

Legalizing marijuana would take action in Congress, and lawmakers are currently considering several bills.

The MORE Act eliminates scheduling of marijuana, removes criminal penalties and provides some relief for past convictions. In 2020, the House approved a version of the bill by 228 to 164 that was mostly along partisan lines, with six Democrats voting against and five Republicans voting in favour. But the legislation did not advance in the Senate.

Representative Jerry Nadler, D-New York, reintroduced the More Act on May 28. “Since I introduced more law in the last Congress, many states across the country, including New York State, have moved to legalize marijuana. Laws have to keep up with this pace.”

Representative Dave Joyce, R-Ohio, also recently introduced a bill to deschedule cannabis. The Cannabis Reform Common Sense Act for veterans, small businesses and medical professionals would direct the federal government to regulate cannabis in a similar way to how it regulates alcohol, allow financial institutions to do business with cannabis companies and allow the Department of Veterans Affairs to prescribe medical marijuana to veterans. The bill does not include some aspects of taxation and social justice in the More Act.

Joyce said the bill would help veterans and support small businesses and their workers “while respecting the rights of states to make their own decisions regarding which cannabis policies are best for their constituents.”

Legal Hodgepodge makes the test complicated

States will still regulate cannabis under the federal proposals, and employers should note that state laws vary widely in terms of whether they provide workplace protection for off-duty use.

For example, the states of California and Colorado do not protect employees who consume cannabis for medical or recreational purposes, even outside of work hours. However, New Jersey and New York recently passed recreational laws that include labor protections. New York law prohibits employment discrimination against people who legally use marijuana outside of work, while New Jersey law protects anyone who uses marijuana, prohibiting adverse employment actions based only on a positive marijuana test result.

Given the inclusion of the word “only” in New Jersey law, an employer can fire an employee if there is a reason behind a positive test result to support a decision, such as as a positive drug test in conjunction with observed behaviors indicating to poisoning.

She noted that New Jersey’s law is unique from other state laws in that it imposes strict requirements on employers that screen cannabis use.

Multistate employers should be aware that Nevada does not allow employers to take reverse action against job applicants who test positive for marijuana, and Philadelphia recently enacted a law prohibiting most city employers from testing new hires for marijuana use starting January 1, 2022 per law exceptions for sensitive jobs for safety.

Additionally, some states that do not protect recreational use still prohibit employers from taking negative employment actions based on a job candidate or employee’s status as a registered medical marijuana patient.

Mastroianni said employers in jurisdictions that protect out-of-hours use may decide to stop testing job applicants and employees for cannabis use altogether. “Employers who decide to continue drug testing of employees for cannabis should consult with an attorney to ensure that their drug testing program is fully compliant with applicable laws.”

It recommended that employers train managers to identify when an employee is under the influence of cannabis, since in some jurisdictions employees cannot be disciplined or fired solely because of a positive drug test.

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