The latest cannabis news hits close to home

Amazon employs roughly 4,000 people in the Spokane region and is set to add about 1,000 more jobs later this year. - YOUNG KWAK PHOTO
Young Kwak photo
Amazon employs roughly 4,000 people in the Spokane region and is set to add about 1,000 more jobs later this year.

Cannabis has been all over the news in recent months, but normally the stories have been coming from places far from home. A wave of legalization efforts have states like Connecticut and Virginia dominating the headlines. Since the start of June, however, two of the biggest cannabis stories in the country have had strong ties to the Spokane region.

AMAZON DROPS DRUG TESTS FOR APPLICANTS

Earlier this month online retail behemoth Amazon announced it would no longer test most job applicants for cannabis. Positions regulated by the Department of Transportation will still require pre-hire tests, but otherwise the company said it would treat cannabis the same way it treats alcohol.

This is big news for Spokane because Amazon has been rapidly expanding its presence as an employer in the region. According to reporting by the Spokesman-Review, Amazon employs roughly 4,000 people in the Spokane region and is set to add about 1,000 more jobs later this year with the opening of a fulfillment center in Spokane Valley. That makes the company one of the largest private employers in the region. Going forward, most of those jobs will now be open to those who use cannabis recreationally.

JOINTS FOR JABS PROGRAM FLOUNDERS

Last week, when the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board announced its "joints for jabs" program, it was immediately big news around the country. For good reason, too, because in less than 10 years cannabis had gone from being an illegal drug to now being used as a tool in the fight against the worst pandemic in a century. The idea behind the program was simple: Get a dose of the vaccine at a dispensary and get a free joint for your troubles.

It hasn't been super smooth, though. Reporting from the Associated Press and KING TV in Seattle highlighted the hurdles faced by those hoping to take part in the program. The issues range from a simple lack of space within the dispensaries to fears from regional health departments surrounding the still-illegal status of cannabis at the federal level. Moreover, vaccine doses have to be administered on-site to comply with the program, unlike the more lax regulations for bars and breweries, which are allowed to give a free beer to anyone who presents proof of vaccination.

Conceptually, the program makes good sense. In practice, it's been hard. Locally, Apex Cannabis is getting in on the action with clinics on Thursday and Friday. ♦

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