The same day Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos and his fellow passengers flew into space in the New Shepard rocket, his company took action to start lobbying in favor of cannabis reform legislation. Bills such as the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act, in the event it passes, “removes marijuana from the list of scheduled substances under the Controlled Substances Act and eliminates criminal penalties for an individual who manufactures, distributes, or possesses marijuana.”
The retail behemoth and one of the country’s largest employers made $21.3 billion in net income in 2020, while legal cannabis sales across the United States topped $17.5 billion. Bills like the MORE Act have passed in the House but are consistently left to languish in the Senate, and many cannabis activists, like the leaders of the Marijuana Policy Project and the Drug Policy Alliance, believe Amazon’s support could tip the legislative scales in their favor.
“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, told Politico.
This is far from the first time Amazon has expressed an interest, either financial or political, in cannabis. In February, the company announced the launch of a pilot program for sellers of CBD-infused products for the UK branch, though thousands of unregulated CBD products are searchable for sale on the American site.
On June 1, the company declared changes to its drug-testing policy, and would cease disqualifying candidates and employees who tested positive for marijuana. In the same memo, as part of their “Earth’s Best Employer and Earth’s Safest Place to Work” initiative, Amazon expressed its support for the MORE Act, and encouraged others to get involved.
Other billionaires seem to have the same idea. Tesla and SpaceX Elon Musk has publicly smoked cannabis with Joe Rogan, and expressed in a tweet last year, which has since garnered over 680K likes, that “selling weed literally went from major felony to essential business (open during pandemic) in much of America & yet many are still in prison. Doesn’t make sense, isn’t right.”
Charles Koch, the 85-year-old billionaire CEO of Koch Industries, is reportedly poised to drop $25 million to further the fight to end prohibition. He has been supporting similar efforts for years through his Americans for Prosperity advocacy group, helping free those incarcerated for cannabis-related crimes and has already spent upwards of $70 million for the cause. A recent article in Forbes reveals similar goals and actions from the likes of Bill Gates and Jay-Z.
Whether they’re breaching the stratosphere or lobbying for weed, America’s billionaires want to take their businesses to the next level. It’s only a matter of time until we see what their actions mean for the rest of us.