When Musk began dating musician Grimes, I knew it wasn't going to end well. "You just watch," I told my cat Memphis. "This is going to involve some bad choices that will result in some terrible consequences." And sure enough, some very bad cannabis-related choices have been made by Musk. And they cost Musk and Tesla tens of millions of dollars.
Hot take: I love Teslas. Even as a non-driver, I truly enjoy their power, luxury, and futuristic stylings. I could never afford one, but they are fun.
I have mixed feelings, on the other hand, about Elon Musk, Tesla's CEO with the dual Bond Villain moniker and '70s porn performer name. A brilliant mind, a seemingly shitty personality, and a very complicated and expensive relationship with cannabis.
It started on August 7, when Elon tweeted, "Am considering taking Tesla private at $420. Funding secured." That price wasn't a mistake, but more on that in a bit.
The same day of the tweet, he appeared on Joe Rogan's show, which is already moving backwards from Good Call-ville. While recording, Musk was handed, and smoked from, a blunt that Rogan passed him. "That is so edgy and punk rock!" said people who don't know what those words really mean. While doing smoking, Musk held forth on planes, tweeting, his flamethrowers, and sustainable energy, all while holding the blunt incorrectly and making the sort of smoking faces you pray you don't make. His thoughts on cannabis included, "I’m not a regular smoker of weed” and that he smokes “almost never… I don’t actually notice any effect… I know a lot of people like weed, and it’s fine, but I don’t find it very good for productivity… it’s like a cup of coffee in reverse. I like to get things done, I like to be useful, that is one of the hardest things.”
That wasn't a good choice. Although Rogan tapes in California, and Musk smoking was within the laws of the state, cannabis is—say it with me now—still illegal at the federal level. You know who didn't appreciate Musk burning one down? The U.S. Air Force, which announced, "We will need time to determine the facts and the appropriate process to handle the situation." That situation being that Musk is also CEO of SpaceX, a company that holds numerous military contracts. It's believed that Musk has a government security clearance—the type which prohibits a holder of said clearance from consuming cannabis. What sort of "genius" thinks these have been good choices?
Later in the month, Musk did an interview with the New York Times, in which he talked about that $420 price tag, insisting "he wanted to offer a roughly 20 percent premium over where the stock had been recently trading, which would have been about $419. He decided to round up to $420."
“It seemed like better karma at $420 than at $419,” Musk explained. “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.”
The Security and Exchange Commission opened an investigation. One that recently resulted in Tesla paying a $20 million fine, Musk paying his own $20 million fine, and Musk stepping down as Tesla's chairman for the next three years (although he can remain CEO, because corporations are people, my friend).
To recap: Trying to impress Grimes with a played-out weed reference cost Elon Musk $40 million and three years of the chairmanship of Tesla. I told you, Memphis.