This past month, “Earth’s Best Employer” and “Earth’s Safest Place To Work” (as Amazon has publicly committed to becoming) made industry waves with two big announcements. One, that they would no longer test employees for cannabis use. And two, that they would support the MORE (Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement) Act in Congress. So did the heavens shake?
No, but cannabis stocks roared. Which can seem out of character for the cannabis industry; historically anti-big business and driven by small entrepreneurs. Nonetheless, the announcement is viewed as an important sign that federal legalization may not be too far away with Amazon squarely on board.
Does this mean that dispensaries are going to go out of business and Amazon’s drones are going to be delivering flower, edibles and pre-rolls to America’s front porches? Hardly. Think four years ago when Amazon purchased Whole Foods and the alcohol industry was in a tizzy that liquor stores would be shutting their doors. It didn’t happen, nor does it seem likely to happen.
Unlike the tech gadget of the moment, delivering alcohol nationwide requires Amazon to be in compliance with hundreds of overlapping regulations across states, counties and cities. Sure, if anyone can master the task Amazon can, but it’s not something that can be done overnight. And in the meantime, consumers aren’t changing their purchasing habits; even in Amazon’s home town of Seattle, both neighborhood liquor stores and alternative delivery services are doing just fine, thank you.
Nationwide cannabis delivery would be even more complex. But regardless, there’s always going to be room in any industry for two contrasting retail styles: big box-driven and boutique-driven. It’s picking up cardboard boxes of Franzia and gallon jugs of Gallo at Costco versus individual bottles from small producers at local wine shops. Observers expect the same should Amazon eventually begin to offer cannabis: a focus on large-scale celebrity-driven brands, leaving craft brands the purview of local dispensaries.
Amazon’s influence in the corridors of Congress is substantial, so its presumed lobbying efforts on behalf of MORE Act passage is a boon for the industry — even if, as one would presume, they push for language in the final bill that would favor their business model. And certainly, by rejecting drug screens for employees and supporting employee rights to partake on weekends, Amazon is putting what may become a final nail in the coffin of unscientific and costly workplace testing.