When Amazon Discusses Cannabis in Washington D.C., Everyone's Listening
Question is: Will the company actively push for legalization and why?
In June, corporate giant Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) announced it was time to adjust its outdated cannabis policy and told the world it will no longer test for marijuana for most of its job positions. The online retailer also declared its support for the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement Act of 2021 (MORE Act).
Having one of the largest companies in the U.S. openly supporting cannabis-related initiatives is an important milestone in and of itself. Now it turns out, there's more.
The Seattle-headquartered company is apparently trying to persuade other corporations and Congress to support federal cannabis legalization, according to Politico.
Amazon discussed federal cannabis policy
Based on Politico's report, several advocacy and industry groups such as the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML), the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA), and Canopy Growth (NYSE: CGC) reported having met with Amazon executives in June to talk about federal marijuana policy.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and fellow Sens. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) introduced a draft proposal, the so-called Cannabis Administration & Opportunity Act, on July 14. The proposal contains a plan to remove marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act
Expectations on passage of the proposed draft bill are divided, with some cannabis advocates viewing it as too ambitious, while others, like Cantor Fitzgerald financial services firm, contend that with certain compromises it could garner enough Senate votes to pass.
Many cannabis legalization advocates are now looking to Amazon, hoping the company “will take the next step and use its considerable D.C. muscle to help get [the initiatives] passed,” according to Politico.
Cannabis lobbyists in contact with Amazon have confirmed that the company has indeed gotten involved in the cannabis legalization debate in Washington, D.C. but whether the company is actively lobbying or monetarily backing the legislation is still unknown.
“I'm quite disappointed that we've really seen no movement whatsoever at the federal level,” said Matthew Schweich, deputy director of the Marijuana Policy Project. “I think that if Amazon were able to lend its political support to federal reform and fund state-level efforts, that would be a net positive for the cannabis reform movement in this country.”
What’s in it for Amazon?
The question most likely on everyone’s mind is: does Amazon plan to get into the business side of the industry if cannabis is legalized?
Another large company, Uber Technologies Inc. (NYSE: UBER), recently announced that it was thinking about joining the industry if cannabis is declared federally legal.
Amazon, at least so far, has not expressed a desire to become a cannabis player.
“They didn't tell me anything about wanting to get in sales or anything,” said Maritza Perez, director of national affairs at the DPA, who met with Amazon in June to discuss the latest legalization bill. “I did express the fact that they're a big corporation, and that people may think that they're doing this for other reasons. And they understand that that might be the perception.”
Many still assume that this is the case. Amazon, after all, is powerful enough to impact federal legislation by offering benefits to other corporate giants, thereby negatively affecting small companies in the cannabis space.
“There have been a lot of concerns that they might try to push out the ability of small businesses to be able to succeed in this space, so that's definitely something that we're on the lookout for,” said Morgan Fox of the National Cannabis Industry Association.
Amazon’s shares were trading 0.02% higher at $3,586.1 per share at the time of writing Thursday morning.