Whether you’re indifferent or passionately loathe Jeff Bezos’ mega-corporation that emits as much carbon dioxide as the country of Norway, there’s no arguing the fact that Amazon mega bucks could make a difference in the lobbying push to pass federal cannabis legislation in the United States.
That’s why we gave a reluctant cheer (and a dramatic eye roll) when Cannabis Wire broke the news that on Wednesday, the corp officially registered as a lobbyist on “Issues related to the Equality Act (H.R. 5 / S. 393), the Justice in Policing Act (H.R. 1280), and marijuana reform, including the MORE Act of 2021 (H.R. 3617).”
In June, the company became arguably the most mainstream corporation in the world to support cannabis legalization when it announced a (slight) change of heart on its weed policy. In a statement, Amazon ended drug testing for new employees (outside of those who operate heavy machinery.)
The corporation also pledged to actively support the MORE Act, a proposed cannabis legalization bill that’s likely been rendered obsolete by last week’s announcement by Senate Democrats of the Cannabis Administration and Opportunity Act.
“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,” Matthew Schweich, deputy director of the Marijuana Policy Project, recently told Politico.
That same Politico article reports that the Drug Policy Alliance, National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML), and cannabis corporation Canopy Growth Inc. have all held meetings with Amazon officials this summer.
Those link-ups would imply that the company is seriously looking to develop a plan for influencing politicians to support federal weed legalization.
Amazon and Bezos’ massive, space-colonizing fortune could certainly be useful when it comes to convincing Republican politicians — and even some Democrats, ahem, Mr. President — that the moment has come to legalize recreational and medicinal cannabis. After all, 90 percent of the population of the United States is in favor of legalization. Not to mention, 18 states and Washington D.C. now have adult-use marijuana laws, with 37 states enjoying some form of access to medical marijuana. So, it’s obviously time!
However, there are surely few among us who believe that Amazon is dedicating resources toward ending the cannabis arm of the Drug War out of pure altruism. Many have surmised that the company may be eventually looking to get into the weed biz, though the corporation’s representatives have denied such suppositions.
“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,” Morgan Fox, the National Cannabis Industry Association media relations director, told Politico.
After all, when it comes to cannabis legalization, it’s important to remember that the question is no longer whether it should happen, but how it should happen. Is a mega-corporation like Amazon likely to lobby for environmentally sustainable industry regulations, or protections for equity and small cannabis businesses? Time will tell what kind of ally, exactly, the world’s fourth largest corporation proves to be to weed.