Amazon’s prohibited product algorithm is creating issues in the ancillary cannabis business space. In doing so it directly contradicts the company’s pro-cannabis public image. On September 26, Seattle Times reporter Lauren Roseblatt wrote an interesting article describing Amazon’s abrupt removal of an herb grinder company’s (“Golden Gate Grinders”) products from its platform last year. The company had been selling its products on Amazon for nine years before the e-commerce behemoth flagged the grinders as drug paraphernalia and removed them “overnight”. This result is clearly out of line with Amazon’s pro-cannabis public statements, which begs the question: what is going on?
What is “drug paraphernalia”?
Despite over 60% of Americans favoring federal legalization of cannabis, the Controlled Substances Act (“CSA”), still classifies cannabis as a schedule I substance. This means that as far as the federal government is concerned the possession, use, and distribution of cannabis or any cannabis paraphernalia is a federal offense. Drug paraphernalia is defined in 21 U.S. Code § 863 as a product “which is primarily intended or designed for use in manufacturing, compounding, converting, concealing, producing, processing, preparing, injecting, ingesting, inhaling, or otherwise introducing into the human body a controlled substance”. As legal definitions go, this is