By Spencer Kellogg | @Spencer_Kellogg
Elon Musk, thank you. You didn’t have to smoke a tobacco and cannabis mixed blunt with Joe Rogan on what amounts to live national television, but you did, and as a recreational pot smoker, I thank you. In one Bill Clinton-esque inhale, Musk did more for the normalization of recreational marijuana use than decades of failed congressional lobbying and polite rhetoric from the aristocratic class of America’s ruling society.
Let’s be honest, cannabis is not a dangerous drug. It’s a plant that grows naturally across the entirety of planet earth. Marijuana, reefer, weed, smoke, chronic, ganja, grass, herb, pot, and dope are not dangerous drugs either. They are the loving terms of endearment for a plant that relieves the pain and stress of more than 230 million people worldwide. Smoking or ingesting cannabis is a completely non-violent crime. The federal prohibition of it throughout the United States remains a lasting scar on the ideas of liberty and freedom that our founders fought so eagerly to establish and preserve.
With a whiskey in one hand and a dubious smirk on his face, Musk asked if pot was legal in California before taking one small puff for man and one giant rip for marijuana mankind. It was a moment that crystallizes Musk as a sort of Steve Jobs 2.0: a risk taker willing to think and act beyond the petty and insignificant grasp of shareholders, dividends and acceptable business decorum alike. He didn’t smoke to get high – he smoked to prove a point.
That point is strikingly clear – cannabis is a mild stress reliever of no harm to anyone and it’s about time we start treating it that way. Rogan has been doing this for years on his podcast. In fact, when I first heard that Musk was going to be on Rogan, my first thought was if Musk would venture to smoke with the podcasting giant. Although Fox News and CNBC were clutching their pearls as the morning bell saw Tesla shares drop 20%, I couldn’t help but feel the sort of pride that only comes from witnessing a truly revolutionary act.
The pundits in the media didn’t think too much of Musk’s blunt rap. Neither did two of Musk’s top executives who jumped ship on Friday morning as the share price of Tesla spiraled downward. Musk admitted during the interview that he has only smoked marijuana a few times in his life. So why was he lighting up with Rogan? The inherent beauty of Musk’s pot smoking is that the CEO knew his stock price would shutter the next morning but he decided to act in accordance with his own ethics of free will and decency. In the hyper-corporate tech world that often seems as if it’s treading across an ever-present veneer of polite progressive politicking, Musk lighting up with Rogan feels like a singularly rebellious act.
While Musk’s unrepentant and unapologetic attitude has gained him an adoring, cult-like fans, smoking weed with Rogan was the culmination of a summer-long PR nightmare for institutional investors. With a three-month tour de force that included a promise to take Tesla private for $420 a share, mudslinging gossip with rapper Azealia Banks and juvenile allegations of pedophilia against a Thailand cave diver, Musk has successfully tanked the value of Tesla. Questions still linger regarding production and management within the futuristic hi-tech company.
Across the country, Americans are hounded and harassed daily by an overpowering police state still treats the plant with the same ‘reefer madness’ disdain of their grandparents’ generation. In many areas of the country, possessing as little as a gram of the plant can have serious legal ramifications including jail time, loss of job, loss of driver’s license and the heavy economic burden placed on defendants in a for-profit court system.
The road to marijuana legalization in the United States has been a long and winding one that has seen constant, malignant abuses at the hands of federal and state governments alike. While Musk’s tight-lipped puff is only a minor blip on the timeline, it serves to paint an intimate portrait of the work that has been done to normalize its consumption. Often maligned, criticized, and joked about, Musk put his reputation on the line for a group of people that he owes no allegiance and in doing so showed his commitment to freedom and liberty.
For that, Elon Musk, I would like to say thank you.
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