After Elon Musk’s appearance on The Joe Rogan Experience podcast last year, The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) required all SpaceX employees to undergo a mandatory review to make sure they didn’t consume cannabis while working under a government contract.
NASA paid SpaceX $5 million in May to cover the cost of the review and reinforce workplace safety standards and to conduct interviews with employees. NASA also required Boeing and its employees to undergo the same process, but without paying them any compensation. Both SpaceX and Boeing are competing to build a new space capsule for NASA’s Commercial Crew Program.
“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,” NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said. “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.”
While recreational cannabis is legal in California, where the interview with Rogan took place, but it is still classified as a Schedule I drug by the U.S. Government and illegal drug use is in violation of the terms if a government security clearance, which Musk has. Bridenstine said he’s more concerned about drugs like cocaine and opiates that could seriously impair SpaceX and Boeing employees during work hours.
“What we have here is an important cultural divide between what is considered appropriate behavior in the old guard in the space community and what is considered OK among Silicon Valley tech people and a growing sector of Americans,” said Pete Garrettson, a recently retired Air Force lieutenant colonel and space strategist, said.
While many in the science and space community weren’t sure what to think after Musk’s cannabis use with Joe Rogan, he has the support of another highly respected member of the scientific community in Neil deGrasse Tyson.