August 2018

Q&A The Demon’s New Role Five Questions with Gene Simmons, rock ‘n’ roll icon, marketing mogul and frontman at Canadian cannabis firm Invictus F rom soda to beer to pinball machines, credit cards, magazines and more, Gene Simmons has spent decades lending his celebrity status to market a tireless trail of companies, products and brands. This year, the music icon and co-founder of the hard rock band Kiss added a new venture to that list: cannabis. In his role as chief evangelist officer at Invictus MD Strategies, Simmons has been tapped to be the frontman for the British Columbia-based cannabis grower as the firm hustles to gain market share ahead of the expected launch of Canada’s recreational marijuana market. Simmons brings to the role nearly 45 years of brand- building and business startup experience. When he’s not slapping the bass at Kiss reunion tours, The Demon (his stage persona) is a partner in the New York-based family office of Highmore Group Advisors. He’s also a founding partner in the global restaurant chain Rock & Brews and soon plans to launch a soft drink line, Money- bag, which will be sold across all 7-Eleven stores. A self-proclaimed “straight-edged guy,” Simmons has long celebrated his anti-drug reputation. He’s notorious for urging rockers and the fans that celebrate them to just say no. When it comes cannabis, however, the ’70s rock leg- end says he’s had a “change of heart.” By Lisa Bernard-Kuhn As he talks to the masses about his pivot, his message is simple – but calculated: “Do your research so you can make informed decisions. Don’t be misinformed, like I was.” Marijuana Business Magazine spoke with Simmons about his new cannabis gig and what’s fueling – and fund- ing – his new position in this booming industry. Q What’s with the change of heart? A In the interest of full disclosure: I never held anything rolled up, cigarettes or otherwise. I’ve never injected anything. I’ve never been drunk in my life. I’m pretty boring. I became interested when the planets aligned and I met Dan Kriznic, the CEO of Invictus. He came Photo courtesy of George Long 16 • Marijuana Business Magazine • August 2018