Elon Musk becomes the International Space Station’s weed guy in March

Elon Musk becomes the International Space Station’s weed guy in March
Credit: Nicole Gray

SpaceX has reportedly been tapped by a company called Front Range Biosciences to smuggle some drugs from Earth to the International Space Station in a mission set to launch in March.

Just when I think Elon Musk cannot possibly be more irresponsible and idiotic, he goes and pulls a stunt like this… and totally redeems himself.

Okay, maybe not totally. Abusing the court systems to make calling someone a “pedo guy” okay isn’t exactly a good use of anyone’s time. And I still maintain that naming Tesla’s driver-assistance feature “Autopilot” is criminally misleading. But, all that being said, studying how space affects cannabis and coffee is something that could benefit all humankind. We’ll call it a step in the right direction.

According to a press release from Front Range Biosciences:

The experiment, being targeted for transportation to the space station aboard the SpaceX CRS-20 cargo flight scheduled for March 2020, will look at how plant cells undergo gene expression changes or genetic mutations while in space. Front Range Biosciences is providing the plant cultures, while SpaceCells will provide expertise, management and funding for the project.

If you’re imagining a bunch of astronauts getting high in zero gravity, I’m sorry to have to burst your bubble but the cannabis plants and seeds that’ll make their way into space next year are hemp strains. Hemp’s great for a lot of things, but getting high isn’t one of them.

Still, we’re on the cusp of a great new space age that’ll involve sending humans deeper into space than we’ve ever gone and for longer periods of time. We’ll need to figure out how to grow plants in space and on alien soil, especially if the climate crisis changes the rules for plant life on Earth.

Musk, the CEO and founder of SpaceX, probably isn’t involved at an intimate level. And, to be clear, Front Range Biosciences and its partners SpaceCells USA Inc. and the University of Colorado are the bodies responsible for the mission.

But, for all his faults, it’s hard to imagine NASA using a government-owned craft to mule “Schedule 1” narcotics across all the borders. Musk‘s boyhood vision of building his own rockets is paying off for the scientific community at large and, to a small degree, the pro-cannabis one as well.

Associating hemp and coffee with science in the same breath is a means of normalizing “marijuana.” Either that, or demonizing coffee. I prefer to see the dime bag as half full.

For more information about Front Range Biosciences’ research, check out its website.

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