Elon Musk points out paradox of marijuana criminalization

Tesla founder Elon Musk has spoken up about the criminalization of marijuana more than a year and a half following his controversial appearance on the Joe Rogan Experience podcast. 

“This will probably get me into trouble, but I feel I have to say it,” Musk wrote on Twitter last Saturday before pointing out the paradox that marijuana dispensaries were declared essential businesses in a number of U.S. states during the coronavirus lockdowns, yet many people are still in prison doing time for cannabis-related offenses. 

“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,” Musk posted on Twitter.

His tweet was shared by Joe Rogan on Instagram with the caption “Elon is right.”

In September of 2018, Musk joined Rogan on his wildly popular podcast, during which the pair smoked a blunt live on-air. After chatting about AI and Musk’s companies, Rogan lit-up a joint, sparking Musk’s interest in the marijuana-laced cigarette.

At that point, Rogan offered the Tesla CEO the joint, to which Musk replied “I mean, it’s legal, right?” before taking a hit. Musk proceeded to sip on whiskey before telling Rogan that “alcohol is a drug” as well. 

The clip went viral before taking its toll on both of Musk’s major companies – electric-vehicle manufacturer Tesla and space company SpaceX. Tesla’s stock dropped 9% following the incident with two executives promptly leaving the company. 

Despite marijuana being legal in California, the drug remains illegal in the eyes of the federal government, which prompted NASA to order a mandatory review of SpaceX’s workplace culture as the company is a federal contractor. According to a Politico report, NASA paid SpaceX $5 million to cover the cost of the review. 

Before smoking pot on Rogan’s podcast, Musk stirred controversy with another marijuana-related tweet in August of 2018. The South-African businessman ran into issues with the Securities and Exchange Commission after tweeting he was considering taking Tesla private at $420 a share. 

According to an SEC filing, Musk’s tweet, which it deemed had misled investors and resulted in Musk stepping down from Tesla’s board, specifically referenced 420 as a joke he thought would be funny to his girlfriend Grimes. 

“This calculation resulted in a price of $419, and Musk stated that he rounded the price up to $420 because he had recently learned about the number’s significance in marijuana culture and thought his girlfriend ‘would find it funny, which admittedly is not a great reason to pick a price’,” the SEC filing revealed. 

SpaceX recently made history after it became the first private company to take NASA astronauts into space, 11 years after the last space launch from U.S. soil. On the other hand, Tesla has been in the headlines due to Musk’s refusal to keep the company’s Fremont plant closed in compliance with Alameda County’s rules during the coronavirus pandemic.  

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