NORML Issues Statement Regarding Amazon’s New Workplace Drug Testing Rules, Support for Legalization

Following yesterday’s public announcement by that the company will cease testing most employees for off-the-job marijuana use and will also lobby on behalf of pending federal legislation (The MORE Act) to repeal cannabis criminalization, NORML issued the following statement from Deputy Director Paul Armentano:

“This decision reflects today’s changing cultural landscape. Suspicionless marijuana testing in the workplace, such as pre-employment drug screening, is not now, nor has it ever been, an evidence-based policy. Rather, this discriminatory practice is a holdover from the zeitgeist of the 1980s ‘war on drugs.’ But times have changed; attitudes have changed, and in many places, the marijuana laws have changed. It is time for workplace policies to adapt to this new reality and to cease punishing employees for activities they engage in during their off-hours that pose no workplace safety threat. Several states, like Nevada and New York, have moved in this direction — as have numerous cities, like Atlanta and Philadelphia — and it is no surprise to see major employers moving in this same, common-sense direction.”

He added: “Public support for HR 3716: The MORE Act is growing day by day. Seven-in-ten US voters say that the adult use of cannabis ought to be legal. It is time for Congress to repeal the federal prohibition of marijuana and to allow states the freedom to establish their own marijuana regulatory policies consistent with the wishes of the majority of their voters and free from the threat of undue federal interference.”


Amazon is not alone in its decision to cease drug testing for cannabis. Drug screening in the workplace has declined in popularity in recent decades. In the late 1990s, an estimated 80 percent of larger employers drug tested. Today, fewer than 50 percent do so. (Los Angeles Times, “In the age of legal marijuana, many employers drop zero tolerance drug tests,” April 2019)

Urine drug screening for marijuana metabolites is a discriminatory practice. The test detects the presence of inactive byproducts that may be present for as many as 100 days post-abstinence. As per the United States Department of Justice, the detection of these products “only indicates that a particular substance is present in the test subject’s body tissue. It does not indicate abuse or addiction; recency, frequency, or amount of use; or impairment.”

Several states – Nevada, New Jersey, New York, and Montana – limit employers’ ability to pre-screen applicants for past marijuana use, as do a growing number of municipalities, including Atlanta, Philadelphia, and Washington, DC.

Off-the-job marijuana use is not linked to any adverse changes in job performance. Employees who use cannabis while away from work do not possess greater risks of occupational injury as compared to non-users. See NORML’s fact-sheet, “Marijuana Legalization and Impact on the Workplace.”


HR 3716: The Marijuana Opportunity  Reinvestment, and Expungement Act repeals the federal prohibition of marijuana by removing it from the federal Controlled Substances Act and provide incentives to state and local governments expunge cannabis convictions and promoting local and diverse licensure for the emerging legal cannabis trades. 

May 26, 2021: “History-Making Legislation to Repeal Marijuana Prohibition Reintroduced

By supporting The MORE Act, Amazon joins other major corporate entities such as Constellation Brands, among others. Statement from NORML’s Political Director Justin Strekal:

“It is in the economic and moral interest of every American and corporation to see an end to the failed policy of marijuana prohibition and to ensure that those who choose to consume cannabis are no longer criminals under the law. For far too long, a massive segment of our population has lived in fear of state and private discrimination, which has had a devastating effect on social cohesion, public trust, and economic growth.”