Elon Musk holds a secret-level clearance with the US government due to his role as founder and CEO of SpaceX, but it has been revealed that his clearance is currently under review at the Pentagon after Musk smoked marijuana last September.
As Bloomberg reports, back in September, Musk appeared on the Joe Rogan Experience podcast in California and proceeded to smoke marijuana during the recording. Although marijuana has been decriminalized in a number of states, it remains illegal for federal employees or contractors with security clearance to use it.
In order to work for the government, which Musk does by way of SpaceX being a government contractor, a Standard Form 86 (SF 86) needs to be completed. This allows the government to collect information for background investigations, evaluations, and the retention of a status or clearance. The form also requires an individual to state any illegal drug use they have experienced.
Musk refiled his SF 86 following the podcast appearance and a US official confirmed the Pentagon is looking at it. A SpaceX official who asked to remain anonymous also confirmed that any clearance review for Musk with the government will have no impact on SpaceX operations. The company is run by Gwynne Shotwell, president and chief operations officer, and not by Musk directly.
For now, the Department of Defense is simply following protocol and reviewing the application based on the refiling and new information it presents. There’s a possibility Musk will lose his clearance based on his actions, but that’s a problem for Musk to deal with, not SpaceX.
Elon Musk is not one to shy away from controversy or upsetting government departments. Also in September last year, he came under scrutiny by the Justice Department who investigated him for fraud following tweets suggesting the entrepreneur was going to take Tesla private. It seems unlikely a security clearance review will bother him too much.
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