UPDATE: KISS icon, former anti-weed advocate, and cannabis investor Gene Simmons on March 20, told the Toronto Sun that after doing his research, he has changed his opinion on medical marijuana.
Simmons told the newspaper, “I was wrong and I was not informed. Well, drug abuse, you don’t have to be a genius (to know that’s wrong) and alcohol abuse, everybody knows that’s wrong but I’ve been dismissive of cannabis. And I didn’t know much about it. I just dismissed it out of hand.”
“I have to man up and admit in the past, I used to dismiss lots of things because of ignorance and arrogance,” he said further. “About three years ago when I did my own research, I found out astonishingly new information that doctors and researchers were talking about with regards to cannabis.”
See the backstory below:
Canadian cannabis company Invictus MD Strategies on Monday announced that iconic rock star and KISS bass monster Gene Simmons will be coming onboard as “Chief Evangelist Officer,” investor, and spokesperson. The company has changed its stock ticker symbol to GENE, in tribute to the new partnership.
“The change in our share ticker to GENE reflects the participation of music legend and media mogul Gene Simmons, who joins Invictus as Chief Evangelist Officer and our enterprise vision of providing multiple genetics/strains to cannabis consumers globally as regulations permit” Invictus Chairman and CEO Dan Kriznic said in a press release. “We have worked methodically and with great energy towards achieving strategic milestones, and we know the time is right for this vital step forward. Gene’s involvement in Invictus is the centerpiece of this next, more mature phase of Invictus.”
Simmons, 68, may be as renowned for his business prowess, as much as his status as a rock legend. Estimated to be worth $300 million in 2017, Simmons maintains a full schedule of speaking engagements, public appearances, as well as teaching his Master Class series, where attendees have a one-day session with Simmons and learn to play bass.
Simmons will appear for Invictus at their annual general meeting, shareholder’s meetings, and trade shows. The musician also has invested in Invictus, and currently holds more than 2.6 million shares of the company.
“I did my due diligence on all the major licensed producers in Canada before picking Dan and the team at Invictus,” Simmons said in the Invictus press release. “From a financial standpoint, Invictus stood out as one of the companies with the most valuation upside based on its revenue and profit projections, and the fact that it had two locations with significant square footage and expansion capabilities on 250 acres in Eastern and Western Canada. My Family, Shannon, Sophie and Nick, now have shareholdings in the company because we believe in what Invictus stands for.
A former grade school teacher, Simmon’s stint in the music industry spun off into mammoth merchandising and licensing businesses, two best-selling books, and an eight-year run for his family-based reality show “Gene Simmons: Family Jewels,” starring with his wife and former Playboy Playmate of the Year Shannon Tweed, and son Nick.
Oddly enough, Simmons also has been outspokenly anti-drug in the past, and has claimed many times to have never used drugs or alcohol–somewhat of an anomaly to the stereotypical ‘70s rock star, and so noted in media reports over the years.
In June 2015, in an article published by VICE, titled, “My Dad Gene Simmons is Full of Shit and So Are You,” son Nick in the process of “killing his idols,” criticized his father for his absolute extremist perspective on drugs, in a way that perhaps only a son could. He wrote:
“This epiphany came to me in high school, when I started learning about drugs. My father prides himself (read: brags about it to anyone who asks) on never smoking, drinking, or getting high in his life—save for one incident when some “special” brownies were mistaken for… well, normal brownies.
“He is still, to this day, profoundly anti-drug. Perhaps due to stressful encounters with drug addicts in the rock n’ roll scene of the 70s and 80s, he resents drug addicts as people. In his experience, they made his life, and his work, more difficult than they should have been.
“He has often spoken, and misspoken, about this topic. I remember watching the news with him in the kitchen as a teen, seeing tragic stories of drug addiction and violence, VH1 behind the music stories, and things like that. He would get quite emotional, always exclaiming something like, “Those idiots. They should be [insert medieval punishment x, y, and z].” My mother, ever the voice of reason, will smack him with a magazine or throw an Altoid at him for these outbursts.
“And it is hyperbole, of course, but he does believe in harsh drug laws, and he has no sympathy for drug addicts. From talking at length with him about it, I know now that this often-misunderstood resentment is not a reaction to real, tragic, medical victims of drug addiction. He resents more the people they were when they made that first choice: the choice to do that first hit, plunge the first needle, to take the first snort. He cannot empathize with that first decision to gamble with what is, in his immigrant’s eyes, a life in the land of opportunity. He believes the responsibility lies with the drug addict for trying it first, knowing everything we know in this age of information. To take that risk is to forfeit his sympathies. The man that gets killed by a bear after poking it with a stick deserves his fate. This is, more or less, his philosophy on drugs—if I can speak for him. And I admit, it sort of makes sense.”
Nick, now 29, as indicated by the senior Simmons, is also an investor in Invictus with the rest of the family. Medical cannabis is legal in Canada, allowing a robust market for the emergent industry. Invictus MD (GENE) was trading up nearly four percent today, on the Toronto Stock Exchange (TMX), at $1.94.