Amazon changes its policy on drug testing US workers for marijuana

Amazon says that with only certain exceptions, it will now treat marijuana use the same as alcohol and will stop testing its employees for the substance as part of its drug testing policy. This change will apply to workers in the US in light of 'where state laws are moving,' according to Amazon, which says the change won't apply to workers in positions regulated by the Transportation Department.

Amazon announced some changes directed at its US employees on Tuesday, stating that it will make some adjustments to its Time off Task policy, namely that it will average it over a longer time period to get back to the spirit of the program. The company made these announcements with its goal of being "Earth's best employer" and "Earth's safest place to work."

According to the company, its Time off Task policy was primarily made with the goal of determining whether there's an issue with the tools employees use, stating that identifying underperforming workers is its 'secondary' purpose.

The change follows criticism that included allegations from workers who claimed the Time off Task policy has resulted in things like skipping bathroom breaks or avoiding first aid over worries about being disciplined for staying off task too long. Amazon was recently back in the news cycle over claims that some employees have resorted to using pee bottles.

As well, Amazon says it is revising its drug testing policy for most US workers, saying in a recent blog post:

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.

The company notes that it will perform impairment checks during the job, however, and that both marijuana and alcohol will be tested for following any incidents. It is unclear how the company plans to determine whether a worker who consumes cannabis was impaired on the job, however — marijuana notoriously stays in one's system far beyond the duration of its psychoactive effects, meaning someone can test positive for the drug without any impairment.