Gene Simmons On Why He Joined The Cannabis Movement

By Paul Gaita 06/27/18

The outspoken rock legend explains why he decided to become a cannabis ambassador despite his long-standing abstinence from drugs and alcohol.

Gene Simmons

KISS founder and bassist Gene Simmons is a tireless promoter and pitchman for both the dizzying array of merchandise for his band (including coffins and cremation urns) and other businesses, ranging from life insurance to car racing leagues and beverages.

His latest entrepreneurial move has linked him with an industry with which he's maintained some distance in the past: Simmons will serve as "Chief Evangelist Officer" for Invictus MD Strategies Corp., a publicly traded Canadian cannabis production and distribution company.

The move may seem contrary to Simmons' long-standing abstinence from drugs and alcohol, from which he's abstained for more than four decades, but the Rock & Roll hall-of-famer had a change of heart after learning about how marijuana use has appeared to improve the health and lives of many individuals.

Simmons has described himself as "a straight guy who's never smoked and never been drunk," and took a fairly hardline approach to cannabis use in the past. "I was one of those people who said cannabis is the same thing as heroin," he told High Times. He also admits that his initial interest in Invictus was purely motivated by financial opportunity. "[Cannabis] is a remarkably expanding marketplace, which means people want it." 

But after delving into some of the research about marijuana's medicinal properties, especially in regard to aiding individuals with serious medical conditions, including severe epilepsy, Simmons stated that he "was arrogant about the whole thing" and believed that marijuana "has great medical potential," adding, "I want lawmakers to really get educated on cannabis-related topics. I want them to get their information from people who don't have a political agenda, like a six-year-old girl with epilepsy being prescribed cannabis-based products, which seem to be miraculously either minimizing or completely curious various ailments."

As Invictus' Chief Evangelist Officer, Simmons will help raise public awareness about the company's upcoming projects as its spokesperson and media consultant.

"Gene will lead marketing initiatives that will help spread the positive messages that dwell at the heart of Invictus," said CEO Dan Kriznic. The timing for such a media push couldn't be better for the company, given Canada's recent and historic vote to legalize marijuana.

Simmons appeared to embrace his new role as cannabis ambassador. "When I show the research to my family and friends, everyone is really excited and positive about it, because this is a good thing," he said. "I have still never smoked or done any kind of cannabis products, but you can bet your bottom dollar [that] if my children were suffering from an ailment and a doctor said they could benefit from a cannabis-based product, I would not hesitate for an instant."

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Paul Gaita lives in Los Angeles. He has contributed to the Los Angeles Times, Variety, LA Weekly, and The Los Angeles Beat, among many other publications and websites.