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're fun. But, I have mixed feelings about Elon Musk, Tesla's CEO with the dual-Bond-Villain moniker and '70s porn performer name. A brilliant mind, a seemingly crappy personality and a very complicated and expensive relationship with cannabis.
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 being made, and result in some terrible consequences." And sure enough, some very bad cannabis-related choices were made. In fact, they just cost Musk and Tesla tens of millions of dollars.
It started Aug. 7, when Elon unwisely tweeted: "Am considering taking Tesla private at $420. Funding secured." That "wink-wink nudge-nudge" price wasn't a mistake, but more on that in a bit.
That same day, he appeared on Joe Rogan's podcast, where again, he was sidelined by Satan's Kale. While recording, he smoked from a blunt Rogan passed him. After doing so, like someone who just hit a blunt, he held forth broadly on planes, tweeting, his flamethrowers and sustainable energy, all while holding the blunt the wrong way and making the sort of face you pray you don't make when smoking.
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 records in California, and thus Musk smoking was within the laws of the state, cannabis is—say it with me now—still illegal at the federal level. And speaking of the Feds, the U.S. Air Force subsequently announced that, "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, which holds numerous military contracts. It's widely believed that Musk has a government security clearance, the type which prohibits holder of that clearance from consuming cannabis. Which begs the question, what sort of "genius" thinks these have been good choices?
Later in the month, because he hadn't done enough damage, Musk did a widely read interview with The New York Times. The article stated that he "said 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 — a number that has become code for marijuana in counterculture lore."
"It seemed like better karma at $420 than at $419," Musk said in the interview. "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 U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission opened an investigation, which recently resulted in Tesla paying a $20 million fine and Musk paying his $20 million fine and stepping down as its chairman for the next three years—although he can remain as CEO, because corporations are people, or something.
Musk said he rounded the price up to $420 because he had recently learned about the number's significance in marijuana culture and thought his girlfriend "would find it funny, which admittedly is not a great reason to pick a price."
If we've learned anything from this story, it's that none of us should be inflating stock prices to a weed-related number in an effort to get a new girlfriend to think we're funny.