Analyzing Elon Musk’s Confusing Cannabis Tweets

Tesla Founder Broadcasts Disdain Over Cannabis Arrests Without Referencing BLM

To say this has been a chaotic summer would be an understatement. We’ve been living through a global pandemic, we’ve seen some of the most prominent protests against racism in recent history, and we’re just months away from a historic presidential election.

And yet, with all these events shaping our world, Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk has been tweeting about literally everything but the news.

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His cryptic tweet-storm began with a swift exit: “Off Twitter for a while,” he tweeted on June 1.

This upset many of the social network’s users who had hoped that Musk would use his large following to promote messages of support for the protests against the killings of Black Americans like George Floyd.

“I am ashamed to have viewed you as a hero a while ago,” one user wrote. “As systemic racism is challenged, you ‘flee the country.’”

Musk’s behaviour has caught the internet’s attention repeatedly over the last year. He brought Canadian indie-pop musician Grimes to the MET Gala last year, and they became a long-term couple – she even birthed a child named X Æ A-12. Don’t ask us how to pronounce that one.

After his initial controversial tweet, Musk’s account only posted promotional retweets of SpaceX’s video material. That is, until June 6.

“This will probably get me into trouble, but I feel I have to say it,” Musk tweeted. “Selling weed literally went from [being a] major felony to essential business (open during pandemic) in much of America & yet many are still in prison. Doesn’t make sense, isn’t right.”

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The tweet received a mixed reaction from followers. While the criminalization of marijuana has put thousands of non-violent offenders behind bars, it isn’t clear why Musk chose to accent this argument at this particular moment. Perhaps it’s because Black Americans are arrested for marijuana possession four times as often as white counterparts, even though both groups use marijuana at a similar rate – though Musk did not reference this data.

Musk later tweeted some version of support for Black liberation, saying that Tesla and SpaceX would recognize Juneteenth as a holiday. Juneteenth, or June 19, celebrates the emancipation of enslaved people in the United States. The holiday originated in Texas, and marks the date that Union soldiers arrived in Texas in 1985 with the news that enslaved people were to be freed. The Emancipation Proclamation had abolished slavery two years prior, but the news did not make its way to many enslaved people for a long time.

Many have called for Juneteenth to be an officially recognized holiday in the United States, complete with time off work like other holidays. Musk is one of many business owners to give staff the day off on June 19 – Taylor Swift tweeted that she would do the same.

We don’t doubt that Musk’s tweets will continue to cause controversy, but we hope his mind is in the right place.