As laws protecting adult use of both medical and recreational marijuana use spread, the second-largest employer in the U.S. is changing its tune on drug testing.
In a June blog post, Amazon said it “will no longer include marijuana in our comprehensive drug screening program” for jobs that are not regulated by the U.S. Department of Transportation. Instead, the company said it would treat marijuana use the same as alcohol use.
The announcement was surprising despite Amazon’s status as a trend-setter from a business operations perspective, Michael Freimann, partner at Greenspoon Marder, told HR Dive. But the news could have a “ripple effect” on how other employers approach marijuana testing moving forward, he added, due to the fact that more and more jurisdictions have implemented marijuana use legislation.
Currently, 18 states as well as Washington, D.C., have adopted laws that legalize some form of adult recreational use, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. States added to the list in 2021 include Connecticut, New Mexico, New York and Virginia.
Within some of these statutes, states have added provisions that include varying forms of protections for job applicants’ use of marijuana. In 2019, Nevada became the first state to prohibit employers from refusing to hire job applicants — with exceptions for some roles — on the basis of a positive marijuana test.
This year, two states followed up with similar laws. In February, New Jersey enacted a law stating that employers may not refuse to hire and may not take adverse employment actions against employees because of cannabis use or solely because of the presence of cannabinoid metabolites in the employee’s bodily fluid that results from conduct permitted under state law. In April, neighboring state New York adopted legislation prohibiting employment discrimination against workers based on cannabis use prior to