Kiss bassist Gene Simmons changes his tune on pot: 'I was judgmental, arrogant and uninformed'

  • Gene Simmons in March stepped in as "chief evangelist officer" at Canadian medical marijuana company Invictus MD Strategies.
  • The role is quite a switch for someone who routinely brags, "I never got high and drunk. I never rolled anything, smoked anything."
  • But Simmons seems fully invested in his role, and even said he has no problem with recreational marijuana.

Kiss bassist Gene Simmons may be a notorious straight edge, but he's finally changed his tune on the green stuff — just in time to step into a role at a medical marijuana company.

"I would like to admit that I was judgmental, arrogant and uninformed, as well as misinformed. I was throwing the baby out with the bathwater," Simmons said on CNBC's "Squawk Box."

Simmons in March stepped in as "chief evangelist officer" at Canadian medical marijuana company Invictus MD Strategies, a company that represents licensed cannabis producers across Canada. His role involves developing branding and public awareness, acting as a spokesperson and making public appearances as the Canadian cannabis industry gears up for the passage of recreational marijuana by the year's end, Invictus said.

The role is quite a switch for someone who routinely brags, "I never got high and drunk. I never rolled anything, smoked anything." And who as recently as 2017 told Rolling Stone his kids would find themselves "in a desert camp digging holes, written out of the estate and the will," if they defied his strict commandments on substance use.

So what changed?

Simmons attributes his change of heart to discovering "the medicinal value" of cannabis. He discussed its potential for treating epilepsy and urged the public and legislators to educate themselves about it.

"I was subjected to Cheech-and-Chong-itis, which is the low end," he said. "Champagne is booze, but you don't want to call it booze, because there is a difference between that and the wino on the corner."

But Simmons also has a long history as a spokesperson. In April The Wall Street Journal described Simmons as having "rarely met a brand he won't endorse." His past brand relationships include partnerships with IndyCar racing, a debt-based insurance product and translating software. On its own, Kiss has more than 3,000 branded merchandise items, which by Simmons' estimation generates around $3 billion in royalties.

He often has little personal or professional experience with the products he endorses, WSJ noted, but it never seems to be an issue for someone as recognizable as Simmons.

In his latest partnership at least, Simmons is fully invested regardless of whether he's ever actually consumed marijuana.

"Even recreationally, I have no problem with that," Simmons said.