Amazon continues to put its weight behind cannabis legalization

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Amazon’s support of cannabis reform could help shape the future of the industry

Amazon made headlines last year when it supported ending cannabis prohibition. While that stance appears to remain intact, the eCommerce giant has removed spice grinders from its site. While these devices can be used to grind spices like oregano or rosemary, many cannabis enthusiasts use them for their own benefit. Amazon has stuck to the company’s policy of not selling drug paraphernalia to make this latest decision.

For nine years, Arnold Marcus made his living selling spice grinders on Amazon. His company, Golden Gate Grinders, had several colors available, repeat customers, and an invitation to join the Amazon Accelerator program, a path to becoming an Amazon private label supplier. He was no doubt proud to be involved in all aspects of the business he built.

That changed overnight when Amazon removed his listings, flagging his products as a violation of the company’s policy prohibiting the sale of drugs and drug paraphernalia. Marcus has now spent months fighting his removal from Amazon’s online marketplace to no avail.

“There was no indication in all those years that this was a banned product,” Marcus said this summer. “One day, they were supporting me, and then one day, it ended.”

Amazon says its guidelines on drugs and drug paraphernalia are longstanding and state that products cannot be designed primarily to manufacture, prepare or use a controlled substance. Grinders that are equipped with specific features for marijuana-related use are not allowed on the platform.

For sellers, the policy language is clear, but the application is ambiguous. Platforms like Amazon, Meta and Google are tiptoeing around acceptance in hopes of following federal rules and keeping up with changing guidelines on state boundaries while finding some way to tap into the roughly $30 billion cannabis industry.

Amazon has campaigned for marijuana legalization at the federal level. In the middle of last year, it announced that it would no longer include marijuana in its drug screening program.