Kiss frontman and newly appointed cannabis “Chief Evangelist Officer,” Gene Simmons says that although he has never indulged in pot, he’s fascinated by the cannabis industry and sees his role in Canadian company Invictus MD Strategies (TSXV:GENE) as strictly a business relationship.
Canada’s emerging cannabis industry has already attracted a number of performing artists including Snoop Dogg (affiliated with Canopy Growth Corp.) and members of the Tragically Hip (backers of Newstrike Resources), with the latest addition being Simmons’ spokesperson and branding role for Vancouver-based Invictus MD Strategies, who last week doubled down on the partnership by changing their ticker on the TSX Venture exchange from IMH to GENE.
But the appointment has been called into question, in part because Simmons is a known anti-drug and alcohol crusader, having delivered public service announcements and spoken in length on the topic in the past.
No problem, says Simmons, who now acknowledges that there may be potential health benefits to cannabis. “There’s all sorts of new information everybody is learning about, researchers, doctors and so on,” says Simmons in conversation with BNN. “The more I read, the more fascinating it is. Laws are in flux, the world is changing.”
“I’m not here to wave a flag for or against anything else,” says Simmons. “I’m fascinated by Invictus and I’m bullish by the company. The management, the structure, the way they treat their folks, and I’m in for the long haul, I’m not a short guy.”
The new appointment will involve Simmons providing marketing and branding efforts in return for US$2.5 million and 2.6 million common shares in Invictus plus a further two million shares through a management services agreement and a second tranche of two million by January 2, 2019.
“I’ve got $10 million bucks in stock in the company,” says Simmons. “There’s all this pop culture positioning about titles and about Gene Simmons and he’s got a long tongue, but at the end of the day, I think the cannabis industry is very interesting.”
“I’ve literally never been consciously and willingly high or drunk and I’ve never smoked cigarettes. But this is a life choice for me,” says Simmons. “I’m lucky enough to be living in Western culture … and I would never shake the perennial [sic] finger in anyone’s face and proselytize or other big words like ‘gymnasium.’ I don’t want to tell anyone what their choices are in life.”
When asked whether his lack of experience with cannabis might impact his ability to represent Invictus, Simmons didn’t see it as an issue. “I get that all the time. No, I don’t [do drugs], but so what? If I go to a restaurant and I speak to a chef and I say, make me a spinach soufflé, does he actually have to eat spinach to make the soufflé? Is it possible that he’s not interested, never had spinach but he’ll make the best spinach soufflé you’ve ever had?” says Simmons.
“This whole notion of a straight line always making sense … no, it’s not. I invest in all sorts of things that I don’t personally use,” he says.