Limo / YouTube Elon Musk smoking weed meme...
Limo / YouTube

A rich person doing drugs usually doesn’t make headlines, but Elon Musk’s decision to smoke some marijuana during an interview with Joe Rogan definitely did. It isn’t because people are offended that the Tesla CEO consumed marijuana for a podcast. It doesn’t really matter—especially considering that they are in the state of California, which recently legalized recreational weed.

Elon Musk’s decision to smoke weed with relatively little risk to his quality of life and livelihood was quickly pointed out online.

Not only is the double standard around marijuana use a racial issue, but it’s also about class. Rich people largely escape punishment for drug use, while poor and working-class individuals could be shut out of employment opportunities. MarketWatch notes how CEOs and other C-level employees aren’t subjected to the same scrutiny over drug use.

For C-suite executives, it’s a different story. Drug testing of executives remains rare, according to Vishal Agarwal, author of “Give to Get: A Senior Leader’s Guide to Navigating Corporate Life,” and former managing director of development and investments for General Electric Africa. He said drug testing outside the U.S. is very uncommon and in most countries it is unheard of in a white-collar environment.

Drug testing is most commonly carried out on blue-collar workforces, including on the floors of factories, he said. “I have never heard of [drug testing an executive] in my 25-year global experience,” he said.

It’ll be interesting to see what does happen to Elon Musk. Tesla’s stock price went down right after the stunt; two executives reportedly had already been on their way out; and now the Air Force, which doesn’t allow people who have security clearances to smoke marijuana, is a bit flustered about what to do about him, given their multiple contracts with Musk’s SpaceX corporation.

Clearly what Musk did isn’t consequence-free, but he could literally never work again and still live better than most poor people who are ever caught with a small amount of marijuana anywhere it’s illegal.

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This is a Creative Commons article. The original version of this article appeared here.


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