Elon Musk, the billionaire chief executive of Tesla, risked provoking fresh concern from investors on Friday after smoking marijuana on a live web show with US comedian Joe Rogan.
Musk, 47, who has repeatedly accused a British diver of being a paedophile, spent two-and-half hours on the streamed podcast late on Thursday discussing everything from artificial intelligence and its impact on humankind to flame throwers and social media.
Taking a puff from a joint – which Rogan said was a blend of tobacco and marijuana and is legal in California – Musk said he “almost never” smoked. “I’m not a regular smoker of weed,” Musk said. “I don’t actually notice any effect … I don’t find that it is very good for productivity.”
Musk stunned investors last month with tweets saying he had funding to take the company private for $420 (£323) a share. He then backed off from his plan saying Tesla was better off as a public company.
Asked about the wisdom of smoking marijuana while he is under investigation by the Securities and Exchange Commission for the “take private” tweet (which many observers suspected was a marijuana joke), Musk told the Guardian by email: “Guardian is the most insufferable newspaper on planet Earth”.
In a subsequent email in response to a question about whether Tesla drug tests employees, Musk wrote: “Our policy allows trace amounts of THC during work times, provided they are below the safety limit (much like a minimum alcohol level).”
Musk did not immediately respond to additional questions about his behaviour or comments on the podcast.
Earlier this week Musk escalated his baseless attacks against British diver Vernon Unsworth, claiming that the man who helped rescue children from a cave in Thailand was a “child rapist” in an email to a reporter. Neither Tesla nor Musk have commented on the Buzzfeed report.
Musk first called the diver Unsworth a “pedo” in a July tweet – an unfounded claim against a man who was part of the international team that freed 12 young footballers and their coach from the Tham Luang cave complex. Musk, who had unsuccessfully attempted to assist the rescue mission, eventually apologised to Unsworth.
Musk’s behaviour has raised concerns about his leadership and several Wall Street analysts have called for the company to appoint a strong deputy to prop up Tesla’s operations and standing with investors.
Many of Musk’s Twitter followers questioned if smoking marijuana was against the company’s policy, while others mocked the CEO’s initial $420 bid, a number that has become code for marijuana.
“Elon getting high on weed and whiskey is the first reason to go long on $TSLA in a while. He needs to relax a bit,” one Twitter user said.