Elon Musk's Apparent Pot-Smoking Sparks Backlash

By Keri Blakinger 09/10/18
An ex-Tesla employee who was reportedly fired after testing positive for THC says seeing Musk smoke pot was "like a slap in the face."
Elon Musk
Photo via YouTube

In a rambling two-hour conversation on The Joe Rogan Experience podcast, Tesla founder Elon Musk apparently toked a spliff during the live show, a move that fed concerns about his increasingly erratic behavior.

The long-winded chat between the business magnate and the comedian covered everything from robots to web presence, but it was a short exchange about cannabis near the end of the show that drew the most attention. 

"Is that a joint, or is it a cigar?" Musk asked when Rogan pulled out the ganja. "It's marijuana inside of tobacco," the host replied, before asking if Musk had ever tried it.

"Yeah, I think I tried one once," he said. Rogan seemed skeptical, and asked if stockholders prevented him from toking.

“I mean, it’s legal right?” Musk asked. “It’s totally legal,” Rogan said. (The show tapes in California.) 

To some, the move may have seemed hypocritical, since Tesla drug tests at least some of its employees, according to Market Watch.

Crystal Guardado, a former Tesla employee, told Bloomberg News that she was fired from the company after testing positive for THC.

“It was just like a slap in the face to me and my son,” she said. “Elon Musk is just smoking it out in the open, knowing that he uses his very vague drug policy as a way to fire people that are a threat to him."

But even if he didn’t have to pass a drug test, there seems to have been some consequences for the CEO. 

One day after the show, Tesla stock went down 9%, closing at 6%, according to Vox. This may not have been just about the on-air pot use, though, as the company generally suffered a trying week. 

That same day, two top executives announced their departures, continuing the string of turnovers. Also on Friday, reports began surfacing that the Air Force had begun looking into the alleged post use

Earlier this year, Musk sparked speculation about his love for cannabis when he tweeted about taking the company private at $420 a share. Not long after, though, he specifically shot down the idea of cannabis use and dismissed any efforts to read into the number.

“It seemed like better karma at $420 than at $419,” he told the New York Times. “But I was not on weed, to be clear. Weed is not helpful for productivity. There’s a reason for the word ‘stoned.’ You just sit there like a stone on weed.”

Please read our comment policy. - The Fix

Keri Blakinger is a former drug user and current reporter living in Texas. She covers breaking news for the Houston Chronicle and previously worked for the New York Daily News and the Ithaca Times. She has written about drugs and criminal justice for the Washington Post, Salon, Quartz and more. She loves dogs and is not impressed by rodeo food. Find Keri on LinkedIn and Twitter.