Joe Rogan is no stranger to controversy. His show offers more than popular people with powerful personalities — it provides a lengthy interaction that can stretch on for the better part of two hours — which is often far longer than the polished facade maintained by most modern celebrities can last. Incorporate the use of alcohol or marijuana, which is legal for recreational use in California where the podcast is recorded and filmed, and you’ve got the recipe for some interesting conversations.
One such conversation took place last Thursday, when SpaceX and Tesla CEO Elon Musk appeared on the show with Rogan to discuss new technologies, his varied professional pursuits, and yes, recreational drugs. As the two men spoke, Musk and Rogan can clearly be seen (and heard) smoking marijuana as they sip on whiskey, which while not illegal by California state law, remains a violation of federal law, and more importantly, violates regulations pertaining to maintaining a security clearance for government contracts.
Almost immediately, claims hit Twitter regarding an investigation being launched by the Air Force, who contracts through SpaceX for a variety of space-based programs including classified satellite launches. After months of concerns about Musk’s Twitter tirades hurting not only his reputation but his companies’ stock prices, it seemed that Musk’s unusual behavior could potentially cost his space-faring company their most lucrative contracts… but then, that’s not quite the case.
“It’s inaccurate that there is an investigation. We’ll need time to determine the facts and the appropriate process to handle the situation,” one Air Force spokesperson explained. That statement, of course, doesn’t mean there will be no investigation. What it really means is that, currently, the Air Force simply has no idea what they’re supposed to do.
Marijuana use, while increasingly socially accepted within the United States, is against federal law, and there’s little doubt that anyone working as a contractor for the federal government that appeared smoking on a popular podcast with Joe Rogan would have his or her clearance revoked. However, SpaceX’s day to day space operations are, of course, not even overseen by the billionaire mogul that splits his time between SpaceX and at least two other large corporate endeavors. Doing away with millions of dollars worth of SpaceX contracts over the questionable behavior of the comapany’s CEO would cripple SpaceX, but also set America’s orbital operations back months, if not years, as well.
The Air Force will soon need to decide whether or not Musk’s behavior warrants an investigation, and further, if it will result in any formal action. If they chose to part ways with SpaceX, it could mean financial ruin for the orbital front-runner, though such a decision seems unlikely at this point.
Tesla’s stock plummeted nine points following Musk’s appearance on the Joe Rogan podcast, potentially making it the most expensive podcast appearance in history. Soon thereafter, two of the company’s executives resigned. For Musk, this is just the most recent of a long list of public gaffs as of late, including a Twitter flame war with one of the British divers tasked with rescuing a youth soccer team from a flooded cave in Thailand. Musk arrived with an experimental submarine that proved ineffective, and when he was criticized publicly by diver Vernon Unsworth, Musk responded by accusing him on being a pedophile on Twitter. Unsworth has since secured an attorney and plans to sue.
You can watch the segment in which Musk smokes marijuana with Joe Rogan below: