Rock n Roll empresario Michael Cohl gets into cannabis business
Michael Cohl has made a fortune as a Canadian concert promoter, theatrical producer and touring impresario. He has represented more than 150 artists from Frank Sinatra to the Rolling Stones, Michael Jackson, Prince, Stevie Wonder, Pink Floyd and U2 to name just a few of his most famous clients.
Michael not only organized their tours, but also helped them with everything from merchandising their swag to marketing their DVDs, TV specials, books and films. Along the way, he racked up a fortune and landed a Juno, a Billboard, a place in the Canadian Music Hall of Fame, a Tony and an Emmy.
Now at age 70 he is embarking on a new gig to cash in on the latest cool thing since rock ‘n’ roll changed the world: cannabis.
Michael is developing a website and launching a business devoted to promoting the cannabis lifestyle. The blog is simply called “Civilized.” Full of stories about users from cool new cannabis-laced recipes or lotions, the website will eventually sell merchandise, fashion and special event opportunities. He describes it as an online, embryonic Rolling Stone Magazine for cannabis.
Michael sees this business as an extension of his showbiz career and believes the legalization of marijuana represents a major cultural shift. He is still involved in the music and entertainment world through S2BN Entertainment in New York, but he is branching out into marijuana with ownership in a company producing cannabis, as well as a venture principally focused on creating services and products around a new lifestyle.
“I was driving in my car with my girlfriend Laurie and came on the radio that Colorado had voted in favour of recreational and legal medical marijuana. I said I have to get in that business,” he said. “It’s like what I’ve always done. I sell pieces of cardboard, they call them tickets, but the truth is what I did was provide safe harbour for four hours, 2,000 to 3,000 times a year, for pot smokers. They called them rock concerts.”
On June 10-12, “Civilized” is staging a high-level conference — the World Cannabis Congress. “But it won’t be a Woodstock of Grass, it will be the Davos of Cannabis,” he said. The gathering, backed by New Brunswick, will be in Saint John and attract 450 business, research and political leaders to discuss related opportunities and issues.
The market will be vast as legalization comes to Canada and continues to unfold south of the border. The demographics of users has changed from the old “Reefer Madness,” high school stoner image, said Civilized’s CEO Derek Riedle.
“They are a little bit older, have more income and are likely married and raising kids. People will have the legal ability to enjoy and we’re working on the social license and to change the conversation for the better. We’re building a tribe around it.”
Ironically, Michael used to smoke dope regularly but gave it up a few years ago along with smoking. But now he says there are cannabis-based oils, edibles and wearables. Some people vape cannabis, or apply topical oils that provide a pleasant surface reaction but also a psycho-active effect.
With legalization will come medical research, he said. “There’s going to be lots of research. I smoked pot and took other drugs and thought they should all be legal and safer,” he said. “I just don’t get high anymore, but heck this may just make money.”
Michael Cohl has always been ahead of the curve and now is no different. But instead of tuning in, turning on and dropping out, he says he’s going “to tune in, turn on and succeed.”