Amazon Will No Longer Include Marijuana in Drug Testing of Some Employees

Test tubes

Written By ESR News Blog Editor Thomas Ahearn

Amazon – the second largest private employer in the United States – will no longer include marijuana in its comprehensive drug testing program for positions not regulated by the Department of Transportation (DOT), according to a message to U.S. Operations employees from Dave Clark, CEO Worldwide Consumer at Amazon.

“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,” Clark wrote in an Update on our vision to be Earth’s Best Employer and Earth’s Safest Place to Work posted on June 1, 2021.

“We will no longer include marijuana in our comprehensive drug screening program for any positions not regulated by the Department of Transportation, and will instead treat it the same as alcohol use. We will continue to do impairment checks on the job and will test for all drugs and alcohol after any incident,” Clark wrote.

“And because we know that this issue is bigger than Amazon, our public policy team will be actively supporting The Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement Act of 2021 (MORE Act)—federal legislation that would legalize marijuana at the federal level, expunge criminal records, and invest in impacted communities.”

Amazon’s announcement comes at a time when marijuana usage laws are growing. In 2021, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania prohibited pre-employment drug testing for marijuana, New York State legalized recreational use of marijuana away from the workplace, and New Jersey enacted a recreational marijuana use law.

Marijuana workforce drug test positivity continued double-digit increases to keep the overall workforce drug test positivity rates at historically high levels, according to the 2021 Quest Diagnostics Drug Testing Index™ Analysis, the first large-scale national analysis of workforce drug testing during the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Based on more than 9 million drug tests in 2020, the analysis from Quest Diagnostics shows stark differences in positivity between states that permit recreational marijuana use with either medical use and no legal marijuana states. The positivity rate of post-accident test results grew faster than the rate for pre-employment testing.

The analysis found that marijuana positivity surged 118.2 percent in states with legal recreational use statutes from 2021 to 2020. In states with only medical marijuana statutes, the positivity rate increased 68.4 percent. In states with no medical or recreational marijuana statutes, positives increased 57.9 percent.

The marijuana positivity rate in the general U.S. workforce was 3.6 percent in 2020, a 16 percent increase from 3.1 percent in 2019 and a 44 percent increase from 2.5 percent in 2016. The positivity rate in the federally mandated, safety-sensitive workforce was 0.79 percent in 2020, a 10.2 percent decrease from 0.88 percent in 2019.

Employment Screening Resources® (ESR) – a leading global background check provider that was ranked the #1 screening firm by HRO Today in 2020 – provides legally compliant pre- and post-employment drug testing with access to more than 10,000 collection facilities. To learn more about ESR, visit www.esrcheck.com.

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