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Thousands of workers in Colorado can now use marijuana at home without fear of losing their jobs. However, they do not owe this to the state legislature.
Amazon’s June 1 announcement that US employees would no longer be screened for marijuana in drug tests showed that the tide of work is turning across the country, even if it is in Colorado, where the company employs more than 10,500 people. slowly moving. And not only will Amazon stop testing cannabis – essentially treating cannabis like alcohol (does that sound familiar?) – but the company announced that it supports the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement Act to legalize the plant at the federal level .
“We hope that other employers will join us and that policy makers will act quickly to pass this bill,” said Dave Clark, CEO of Amazon Management Group Worldwide Consumer.
Colorado lawmakers had a chance to ensure that all workers in the state, and not just those at Amazon, were similarly protected, but the efforts were dashed in 2020 – and they were not just killed but wiped out. Rejected 0-10 in a first House committee vote. No similar legislation was introduced in 2021.
The 2020 bill proposed protecting employees from being fired for using cannabis outside of working hours, under the same law that protects alcohol and tobacco users. Employees who worked under federal guidelines, such as airline pilots or postal workers, could not have used the law as protection against layoffs (similar to Amazon’s new policy that still tests employees for drugs after work accidents and prohibits marijuana use for positions dated Ministry of Transport to be regulated).
Business and trade organizations opposed treatment of marijuana use outside of business hours similar to that of alcohol, and that group included the Colorado Chamber of Commerce, several construction organizations, and Pinnacol Assurance, the state’s largest worker accident handler. But Amazon, a company with a list of work issues that include forcing employees to pee in bottles, is now okay with this.
Colorado lawmakers and corporations had a precedent based on a 2015 Colorado Supreme Court ruling that corporations could fire employees for legal off-duty marijuana use that state law does not clearly define as lawful . Other states have shown a little more cojones.
Nevada State Legislature passed law last year banning marijuana testing before hiring; New York City also bans them. In 2017, the Massachusetts Supreme Court ruled in favor of a patient with medical marijuana, saying that using medical marijuana – the only legal form of marijuana in Massachusetts at the time – outside of the workplace was not a reason for dismissal. Since legalizing recreational marijuana, Montana and New Jersey have also introduced safeguards for recreational marijuana use after business hours, and fifteen other states protect medical marijuana use around the clock.
Colorado lags far behind considering its status as the first state to legalize marijuana in 2012.
Amazon is a major distributor, retailer, and technology and logistics provider. If it is to rule the world, marijuana will likely be wrapped in that web at some point. The marijuana industry is one of the few businesses the company can’t touch yet due to state legalization, but Amazon is clearly seeing the demand. Colorado pharmacies alone sold nearly $ 2.2 billion worth of marijuana products in 2020. According to a market analysis by management consultancy Grand View Research, the global legal marijuana market is expected to grow at an average annual rate of 26.7 percent from 2021 to 2028.
Colorado could become an important part of it. Geographically, the state is close to the center of the country. If you zoom in further, Amazon’s upcoming 3.7 million square foot shipping center in Colorado Springs is located between Pueblo and Denver, two of the largest marijuana growing centers in the state; The company also owns 98,000 square feet of office space in downtown Denver and is working on a new 112,000 square foot distribution center in Arvada that will store packages before they are delivered to home (though some community residents oppose it).
Amazon is far from being the bearer of hope for workers’ rights – some groups even argue that it is more of a plague – which makes it all the more embarrassing to have Amazon as an ally on this issue before our own elected officials. But, with more and more money pouring into the grass in Colorado, worker and consumer rights may finally finally become a prime legislature goal.
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Thomas Mitchell has been a cannabis-related writer for Westword since 2014, covering sports, real estate, and general news for publications like the Arizona Republic, Inman, and Fox Sports. He is currently the cannabis editor for westword.com.