Jun 03, 2021
Amazon.com stated earlier this week that it supports the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement Act (MORE Act), proposed legislation that would make the sale and consumption of cannabis products legal across the country. The House of Representatives passed the MORE Act last year but it went nowhere in the Senate where it did not have the requisite 60 votes to pass.
Amazon’s statement included a change in personnel policy that would end the pre-employment testing for the drug for certain positions. The company has decided that it will treat cannabis in the same manner it does alcohol when it comes to its testing procedures.
While the news is significant based on the retailing and technology giant’s economic clout and its role as an employer, it may be causing ripples within the cannabis industry for other reasons.
An article on Leafly asks whether Amazon will be “eating the cannabis industry’s lunch” should the day come when marijuana becomes legal across the U.S. and territories including Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. While not the subject of this particular piece, perhaps the same question could be asked of a wide range of large retail chains — convenience, club, dollar, drug and grocery — already selling over-the-counter medicines and alcoholic beverages.
The Leafly article offers some consolation to current operators of marijuana dispensaries across the U.S. “When people think of Amazon crushing an industry, they commonly think of Uncle Jeff putting America’s bookstores out of business. But bookstores are the wrong analogy. … The more appropriate analogy is booze. The alcohol industry experienced these same fears four years ago” following Amazon’s acquisition of Whole Foods.
That deal did open up the sale of alcohol for Amazon, but it is far from being a juggernaut, having to deal with the complexities of retailing in a category that is regulated by a variety of separate and distinct state and local regulations.
The prospect of marijuana becoming fully legal has seemingly improved with each state ballot measure or legislative act passed in recent years. There are more states that have legalized the drug for either medicinal or recreational use than there are those where possession under any circumstance remains a crime, Rolling Stone reports.
If and when the day comes when cannabis is finally legalized, will Amazon and others flood in?
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Why do you think mainstream chains that sell alcohol have yet to move into the legal weed business in states where it has been approved for recreational use? What national or regional retailers, if any, would you expect to go full bore into cannabis if the MORE Act or something similar were to be passed?
” If legal on a national basis, then absolutely I would expect major retailers to jump into this business. It’s immensely profitable!”