Amazon Boots Cannabis-Related Business From Site

It’s possible to connect with cannabis companies and find online cannabis products. However, despite the company’s support for federal marijuana legalization, Amazon continues to block many cannabis-related products from its site.

The issue is less one of condemnation for Amazon and more about the continued headwinds faced by cannabis businesses in a country where weed is legal in many states but illegal at the federal level. That, in turn, has led to less choice for consumers in the online cannabis marketplace.

The most recent news about Amazon came in a Seattle Times article that detailed the company’s policy against the sale of “drugs & drug paraphernalia.” The policy from Amazon, last updated in February 2022, also prohibits bongs, vapes, and any product used in “manufacturing, compounding, converting, concealing, producing, processing, preparing, injecting, ingesting, inhaling, or otherwise introducing into the human body a controlled substance.”

How The Policy Impacts Businesses

The Times offered a story about one seller who recently had his products – spice grinders – booted by Amazon. The owner, 68-year-old Arnold Marcus, ran the business out of his home in San Francisco, taking orders for customers himself. The Golden Gate Grinders company had repeat customers and an invitation to join the Amazon Accelerator program, which offers a pathway to becoming a supplier for Amazon’s private label, according to the Times.

That all ended abruptly when Amazon removed Marcus’ business from the website, saying his products violated the company’s policy. People use grinders on oregano, cilantro and other cooking spices. But they also can use it to grind weed.

Marcus fought the ejection but lost. He’s gone from having a thriving business to having no presence on Amazon. “One day, they were supporting me and then one day it ended,” he told the Times.

Caught In the Patchwork of U.S. Laws

Marcus and others like him – as well as Amazon itself – find themselves caught in a web of laws that make buying, selling and possessing cannabis perfectly illegal in one state but illegal the minute you cross some state lines. And, in the meantime, it’s illegal at the federal level and Congress seems stalled on working out the issue.

Amazon became one of the first big tech companies to stop testing employees for marijuana use. Company leaders also have come out in support of legalization at the federal level.

But that’s not helpful at the moment for someone like Marcus and his customers or anyone who wants to sell online cannabis products. Part of the frustration is haphazard enforcement. For example, the Times reported that even as Amazon removed Marcus’ products, another merchant continued to sell grinders and directly mentioned weed it is product description.

Sellers who spoke with the Times and posted on Amazon retailer boards indicated that the lack of consistent enforcement may result from algorithms policing listings. Some continue to sell products while other are banished. For his part, Marcus tried to change his product and listing to meet the Amazon policy, but to no avail. He is now considering bankruptcy.

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