After SpaceX founder and Chief Executive Officer Elon Musk smoked a little pot Thursday evening on comedian Joe Rogan’s live podcast, The Joe Rogan Experience, several news outlets have gone back and forth on whether Musk would be investigated by the Air Force.
Because SpaceX holds federal contracts and has access to classified information pertaining to U.S. government satellites, Musk presumably has a security clearance.
While some media outlets reported that the Air Force is already looking into the incident, an official with the Office of the Secretary of the Air Force said there is currently no investigation underway.
“We’ll need time to determine the facts and the appropriate process to handle the situation," the official said.
Meanwhile, on Friday, the Canadian military authorized the use of marijuana by troops during off-duty hours — though they cannot partake until it becomes legal across Canada on Oct. 17.
Even if the Air Force ultimately decides not to investigate Musk, the juxtaposition of the two allies' marijuana policies is stark.
The Canadian Department of National Defence dropped its marijuana use directive with plenty of caveats, but most of them roughly mirror the way alcohol use is already treated by the U.S. military. As a baseline rule, Canadian service members cannot consume cannabis eight hours before any duty day and 24 hours before any operation involving weapons or vehicles.
Some of the Canadian guidelines are more stringent than with alcohol consumption. For instance, cannabis products cannot be consumed 28 days before high-altitude parachuting (above 13,000 feet); work conducted in a hyperbaric environment, like open circuit SCUBA diving; or serving aboard a military aircraft.
Musk, who is no stranger to controversy, took one drag off a joint that was comprised of both tobacco and marijuana during an appearance on Rogan’s podcast.
Rogan, who works as a mixed martial arts commentator and stand-up comedian, lit the joint and asked Musk if he had tried it before.
“I think I tried one once,” Musk said.
“You probably can’t [try it] because of stockholders, right?” Rogan asked, while puffing the joint.
“I mean, it’s legal, right?” Musk responded, before taking one puff off the joint.
The podcast took place in Rogan’s studio, which is located in California and where marijuana is legal for recreational use.
Marijuana is still illegal according to U.S. federal law, however. Attorney General Jeff Sessions previously rolled back Obama administration policies dictating that the Justice Department would not pursue cases against individuals in states where the plant was legal.
Musk, who is also CEO of electric car maker Tesla, also drank glasses of whiskey with Rogan during the podcast and discussed artificial intelligence, the possibility of human consciousness being a computer simulation, autonomous vehicles and a wide range of other issues.
Marijuana is still a controversial subject within the military community due to its illegality and the complications it poses for military recruits enlisting from states where the plant is legal.
The Department of Veterans Affairs has wanted to pursue research on the plant’s possible medical benefits, but is partially constrained due to the drug’s strict federal regulation as a Schedule I narcotic. Senior Army leadership also recently acknowledged that legal marijuana use for civilians joining the service is worth re-examining.
The former head of Army Recruiting Command told the Associated Press late last year, when he still had authority to grant misconduct waivers, that he had an open mind.
"Provided they understand that they cannot do that when they serve in the military, I will waive that all day long,” Maj. Gen. Jeff Snow said in December.
Now, however, the waiver authority has been bounced back to the Pentagon, where the Army staff’s personnel chief reviews such requests.
Kyle Rempfer is an editor and reporter whose investigations have covered combat operations, criminal cases, foreign military assistance and training accidents. Before entering journalism, Kyle served in U.S. Air Force Special Tactics and deployed in 2014 to Paktika Province, Afghanistan, and Baghdad, Iraq.