Why NASA Is Investigating Elon Musk’s Marijuana Intake

SpaceX CEO Elon Musk speaks at a press conference where he announced the Japanese billionaire chosen by the company to fly around the moon, on September 17, 2018 in Hawthorne, California.
Mario Tama / Getty Images

When you work with NASA, smoking pot live on the air during a podcast might not be the best idea. That’s why it’s surprising that Elon Musk, regarded as one of the world’s brilliant minds, did exactly this with podcast host Joe Rogan.

Now, NASA is planning to launch a full-scale review of Musk’s SpaceX, according to Boy Genius Report.

If you’re flying high as a NASA associate, you’d better be doing it in a rocket.

NASA is now organizing a safety review of SpaceX, a private aerospace company founded by Musk. The review will involve hundreds of employees. NASA will interview people who work at SpaceX, because they want to completely audit the company culture.

Some might think this is a bit of an extreme reaction just because the founder of the company puffed a joint live on air with a professional comedian. Also, SpaceX is based in California where marijuana is legal for medical and recreational use.

However, the federal government still considers marijuana to be illegal on all levels. States rights are honored because that’s in the Constitution, but federal employees are still required to remain drug-free. Individuals with security clearance are expressly required to refrain from drug usage, which makes Musk’s podcast performance a bit dicey.

NASA and SpaceX have agreed to multiple partnerships for various space exploration missions, and NASA is clearly taking Musk’s behavior very seriously.

Musk and SpaceX aren’t the only company to be targeted for review. NASA has launched a similar review of Boeing, another NASA partner that is currently helping to construct manned spacecraft.

The podcast aired over the summer, and YouTube footage captured the joint-smoking activity.

NASA is officially calling their SpaceX investigation a “cultural assessment study,” the purpose of which is to “ensure the companies are meeting NASA’s requirements for workplace safety, including the adherence to a drug-free environment,” according to ABC News.

“We fully expect our commercial partners to meet all workplace safety requirements in the execution of our missions and the services they provide the American people…As always, NASA will ensure they do so.”

According to NASA officials who spoke to ABC, the investigation is being launched as a direct result of Musk’s podcast appearance. An official statement from NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said the investigation is important for public safety.

“If I see something that’s inappropriate, the key concern to me is what is the culture that led to that inappropriateness and is NASA involved in that…As an agency we’re not just leading ourselves, but our contractors, as well. We need to show the American public that when we put an astronaut on a rocket, they’ll be safe,” he said in an interview.

NASA has invested $1.6 billion in SpaceX with a contract that empowers SpaceX to send cargo flights to the International Space Station. SpaceX is scheduled to launch its first rocket to the International Space Station in January.