On Friday, Tesla CEO Elon Musk got together with comedian and UFC commentator Joe Rogan for a podcast. The two discussed everything from AI’s effects on humankind to social media and more. All fine. What wasn’t so fine, was Musk smoking a blunt during the chat.
See, Rogan was also livestreaming the chat to his fairly popular Twitch channel. In the middle of the discussion, he stopped for a moment to light up a fairly large joint. Musk seemed interested when he asked if that was indeed a joint or just a cigar. Rogan confirmed it was in fact weed rolled in with tobacco. “You ever had that?” Rogan asked, to which Musk responded, “I think I tried one once.” Nice try Elon, no one is buying that, especially not Rogan.
“You probably can’t because…stockholders right?” Rogan suggests. Musk’s response? “I mean it’s legal right?”
In fact, since the chat was being recorded in California where recreational marijuana is legal, it was technically fine for Musk to smoke a blunt. Not everyone thought so, however.
Soon after the podcast aired, Tesla’s stock slumped 6.3 per cent to $263.24, their lowest in five months.
To be fair, it may not all be thanks to Musk’s puffing away. It was also the coincidental departure on Friday of two major Tesla executives, that itself capping off an already crazy month for Tesla. Musk’s fiasco with claiming he had funding to take Tesla private, refusing to divulge details to investors, and then backing down on the claims couldn’t have helped.
That isn’t the end of his problems either. Apparently, reports have emerged that the US Air Force is looking into Musk’s partaking of a joint with ominous possibilities. It makes sense, considering SpaceX has contracts to launch Air Force satellites into space, and Musk being the CEO has been given special military clearance. One of the caveats for that is a drug prohibition. However, an Air Force spokesperson has confirmed the reports are overblown, and they’re only looking into the incident right now. Whether it will actually have any serious consequences for Musk and SpaceX contracts is unclear at the moment.
In the meantime, the incident has sparked of dozens of memes, and Musk fans are already rallying around the tech magnate to defend his actions. Surely there’s nothing wrong with him taking a simple puff of weed right? Well probably not, but there may be some deeper problems here that we’re all overlooking.
This particular incident is independently harmless. However, taken together with the rest of Elon Musk’s iniquities, it paints a picture of an irresponsible person with too much power. In the past year, Musk has taken quite a few questionable actions. Tesla privatisation aside, he decided he didn’t like didn’t like journalists writing negative stories about Tesla. His solution was a site called Pravda that would rate journalists with “credibility scores” based on public opinion. Somewhere in the middle of that he noticed a piece by a financial analyst who didn’t see Tesla’s stock doing well. So Musk called up his boss to complain.
The problem here is that, whichever of these is correct, two other truths also exist simultaneously. Musk is charismatic and honestly quite a visionary, which means fans gravitate towards him like moths to a flame. And the other is that, reckless and impulsive as he seems to be, he’s the CEO of three major corporations, and a number of other startups as well. And when you give power to those who care about wielding it more than managing its effects, you get problems. Or, if recent events are anything to go by, the 46th and current president of the United States of America.