Drugs

Amazon is thirsty for a cut of the burgeoning weed industry

Despite years of policing their own staff, Amazon have come out as in favour of the US Federal Government legalising weed. Which probably means Jeff Bezos can smell money just a little ways down the line.

For years Amazon has insisted on testing their staff, as well as job applicants, for evidence of marijuana (henceforth, weed) use. The thinking behind that policy was likely the same as it normally is – people that smoke weed make poor employees because they are unmotivated and untrustworthy.

Therefore, to come out, just as the tide has begun to turn, and state that they are in fact in favour of weed legalisation, stinks of corporate marketing and propaganda. Although, even more interestingly, it also stinks of perceived opportunity.

amazon weed van
Image: Amazon Prime Van / Amazon.com

Currently, Amazon does not permit the sale of weed on their online marketplace platform. Quite simply, it would be a legal minefield that could result in them being charged for enabling the sale and transfer of illegal substances. That is, unless the legality of weed was to be made uniform across the entire of the USA. If that were the case then Amazon would be able to treat weed as they treat any other product: with moral indifference.

Amazon’s Senior Vice President, Dave Clark, recently clarified that while ‘in the past, like many employers, we’ve disqualified people from working at Amazon if they tested positive for marijuana use. However, given where state laws are moving across the U.S., we’ve changed course.

Solidifying this position in a blog post, Clark stated that Amazon’s public policy team will support The Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement Act of 2021 (MORE Act); a bill that aims to legalise marijuana in all fifty US states.

Now look, I’m not exactly opposed to this development. Far too many capable people have been held back in their lives, particularly in terms of employment opportunity, due to their personal habits and inclinations. However, coming from Amazon, with their past behaviour in mind, this change in outwards signaling feels like a cynical PR exercise. Even more worryingly, Amazon’s new position seems more closely related to their own financial opportunity than any ideological shift in their values.

While the idea of weed being just a click away is undoubtedly appealing, the reality that doing so would result in even more money flowing into the pocket of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos is decidedly less so. Legal marijuana products, and the way they are currently being taxed, have done wonders for many US states. Let’s hope Amazon doesn’t fuck it up.