Amazon workers fired for cannabis use can reapply for jobs

Amazon sees the move as both more equitable and better for business.

REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

Amazon's looser stance on workers' marijuana use now covers people who were previously dismissed. The online retailer said it has restored employment eligibility for workers and applicants who were fired or rejected from unregulated roles (that is, not truck driving or similar jobs) after cannabis screenings. The company didn't promise to rehire recently fired workers or compensate them for lost earnings, but it may be helpful for those still looking for work.

The decision, as before, came down to a combination of equity and practical reality. Candidate marijuana screening "disproportionately" affects people of color, Amazon said. It also noted that varying state levels of legalized cannabis use made it harder to run a consistent and equitable drug testing program across the US. Amazon was also frank about its constant need for more workers — dropping marijuana tests lets it "expand [the] applicant pool."

The move comes on top of recent political efforts, including lobbying for and otherwise supporting bills that reform the federal approach to marijuana. The Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement Act of 2021 (aka MORE Act), for instance, would purge criminal records.

Those measures aren't guaranteed to become law. However, Amazon's overall strategy is clear — it's determined to boost hiring, and it's betting that its sheer corporate clout can persuade lawmakers to widen the door for more recruits.