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Elon Musk ‘did not inspire confidence’ by smoking marijuana during podcast taping: NASA chief

November 30, 2018

The head of NASA denounced SpaceX founder Elon Musk for smoking marijuana during a recent media appearance.

“I will tell you that was not helpful, and that did not inspire confidence, and the leaders of these organizations need to take that as an example of what to do when you lead an organization that’s going to launch American astronauts,” Jim Bridenstine told journalists during a meeting Thursday at NASA headquarters, The Atlantic reported.

Mr. Bridenstine’s remarks about the billionaire business magnate’s behavior marked his first public comments on the matter since Mr. Musk, 47, smoked marijuana during an episode of “The Joe Rogan Experience” more than two months earlier.

“I think those were not helpful,” Mr. Bridenstine said of Mr. Musk’s actions, The Atlantic reported.

“We’ve had a number of conversations,” said Mr. Bridenstine, NASA’s administrator since April. “I will tell you, he is as committed to safety as anybody, and he understands that that was not appropriate behavior, and you won’t be seeing that again.”

SpaceX did not immediately return a request for comment.

Marijuana is legal for recreational purposes in California where the podcast was taped, but the plant is considered a controlled substance under federal law, raising eyebrows given Mr. Musk’s role in commanding a major U.S. government contractor.

NASA announced last month that the agency would be conducting a “cultural assessment study” of employee behavior at SpaceX and another contractor, Boeing, “to ensure the companies are meeting NASA’s requirements for workplace safety, including the adherence to a drug-free environment.”

Mr. Bridenstine said Thursday that he personally ordered the reviews, The Atlantic reported.

NASA’s contracts with both SpaceX and Boeing require the companies to “maintain a program for achieving a drug- and alcohol-free workforce” and conduct “preemployment, reasonable suspicion, random, post-accident, and periodic recurring testing of contractor employees in sensitive positions for use, in violation of applicable law or federal regulation, of alcohol or a controlled substance,” The Atlantic reported.

Combined, the two agencies received $6.8 billion from NASA in 2014 to build launch systems intended for taking astronauts to the International Space Station and back, the report said.

California passed laws legalizing medical and recreational marijuana in 1996 and 2016, respectively, and the state is currently one of seven with systems in place permitting adults to purchase retail pot from commercial dispensaries.

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