Photo courtesy Belushi’s Farm
Jim Belushi is exactly what the cannabis world needs right now. On the surface, the multi-talented comedian is extremely likable and can instantly put you at ease, but underneath the surface beats the heart of an activist and poet for cannabis. His passion for the medicinal, spiritual and psychological benefits of cannabis is second to none.
Unlike a lot of celebrities who are happy to put their name on a cannabis strain or product, Belushi is taking it a step further by starting his own farm in Oregon and using his fame to shepherd in those who have been fed misinformation on the plant for so many years. The Baby Boomers suffering from arthritis might not want to trust an up-and-coming musician, but they will trust Jim Belushi, the man they watched every week for nine years on ABC.
One thing is for sure, Belushi is not here to make a quick buck in the cannabis game. He explained to CULTURE that he is here to disrupt the status quo in the cannabis industry and is having a blast doing it.
When did you know you wanted to be in show business?
Well I was in football, and I was a tackle, but none of the girls were dating the tackles. I don’t know why. They say your name over the loudspeaker when you got a tackle. But in the theater, there were 25 girls and five guys, and I just liked the numbers. And then I got on stage, the adrenaline just rushed. And when I got laughs, it just kept coming, and I was hooked. It was what I call “chasing the magic.” I was never like, “I want to be rich,” or “I want to be a star.” I was just chasing the magic.
In an industry that likes to put people in boxes, you’ve done it all: films, TV, voice acting, singing and theater. Is diversity important to helping you flourish creatively?
I just chase the magic, buddy. There’s magic in all of it. I mean when I’m singing with Dan Aykroyd in The Blues Brothers, with a 10-piece band, you know, three organs, three horns, two guitars, three backup singers, harmonica player . . . It’s like strapping on F-16 engines and just flying. When I’m on Broadway doing eight shows a week or whether I’m doing my improv group with these guys I love, we’re jamming. So, you know, what it really is, I think the magic comes in collaboration. Ensemble. You know? Everything I do has jazz in it.
Photo courtesy Belushi’s Farm
On the flipside, you were on a very successful sitcom, According to Jim, for nine years. Was it difficult to keep your performance fresh after almost 200 episodes?
Oh, that was magic. Larry Joe Campbell and Courtney and Kim, we had a ball. I mean we captured magic all the time. We didn’t want to do what every other show was doing at the time. I had a very strong conversation with the creators when they wrote the pilot. At the end, the last scene was me apologizing to my wife. And I said, “Look, can you write this scene where there is no apology? Can you write this scene where they come to an understanding and a respect and love for each other without having to apologize?” Look, that formula works, and people have been very successful, but what happens is the wife turns into a bitch and the husband turns into an idiot? I didn’t want to do that one. I just don’t think that’s a great model to put out for men or women, in the world. There’s a way to make up with somebody without saying, “I am wrong.” Because you keep making a person wrong, then they start to hate themselves, and then they start resenting the other person. 182 episodes, I never apologized.
“I think if we knew what we know about marijuana today, in the ’70s, the healing, the help it gives, I think there would be a lot more people alive today.”
We just passed what would have been your brother John’s 70th birthday. How do you think he would have reacted to cannabis legalization?
Danny’s [Aykroyd] quote is the best one and that is, “If Johnny was a pothead, he’d be alive today.” You know. I believe John was a product of a generation filled with PTSD. There were friends dying in Vietnam, people who went to Vietnam. Separation from the parents was rough. You know, the movement. I think he expressed it beautifully, his work satirizing in Saturday Night Live and The Second City. But I think he really suffered from CTE, he was a middle linebacker, and he got all the tackles. And he was five-seven and he just jammed his head in there all the time. And I think when he went to college and he smoked a joint, I think he found his medicine. But it wasn’t known as a medicine, it was known as a drug. And since it was considered a drug, everything fell under that label: Mescaline, cocaine, everything. All of sudden you’re in the drug world. But I think he was searching for medicine. I think if we knew what we know about marijuana today, in the ’70s, the healing, the help it gives, I think there would be a lot more people alive today.
What’s your earliest memory of cannabis?
The first time I got high on marijuana, I tried to take my pants off over my head. And I did it. It’s a very creative experience.
Tell us more about your farm in Oregon.
It’s beautiful. It’s a spiritual vortex, right along the Rogue River, and right in the middle of the banana belt which is the prime location for growing grapes, pears and cannabis. The loamiest soil, which we mixed into our soil. The river has almost a perfect pH. Clean, right from the mountains. It’s in this like hidden valley, there are mountains around us, no houses, just farmland, it’s beautiful. I have a sweat lodge that the Native Americans made for me. We have these beautiful ceremonies in there. It’s just . . . I found myself. And the farm is very Oregonian. I mean Oregon to me is the greatest state of cannabis in the country. A friend of mine in Denver has a cannabis business, and I said, “You know, when those borders come down . . . ,” he goes, “I don’t want the borders to come down!” I said, “why not?,” But he goes, “I don’t want none of that Oregon and California weed coming into my state, because it’ll eat them up.” Because I don’t care what indoor grow you have, it’s not as a good as Oregon or Northern California. Period. We’re in the same parallel as Burgundy and Bordeaux. From Napa to about 15 miles past me is that same parallel. And on the seventh day, you know, God was taking a stroll and he just dragged his hand all the way across that parallel.
“So, I’m not saying this is the only medicine, I’m just saying it’s better than opioids and it’s better than alcohol. It’s safer, it’s cleaner, it’s nonviolent, it’s peaceful, it’s enlightening.”
So how did all of this get started?
It started years ago. My good friend John owns a 2,500-acre ranch on the Rogue River, and he would invite us up there twice a year. I’m kind of a water guy, so I took all my clothes off and dove into the river. They all thought I was crazy, and when I came out, it was like I was baptized. I told Dennis, who was the caretaker, to let me know if something came up. A couple months later he tells me, “I found something that you’re either gonna hate or you’re gonna love.” It was 1,800 feet, but thin. And it was a mess, and I went, “I see it.” Later we purchased the adjoining property bringing our farm up to 93 acres.
Photo courtesy Belushi’s Farm
Has the cannabis world been welcoming to you?
I wasn’t chasing the money, so I didn’t really put my name on it. I just called them Rogue’s Lair Farms, and we put it out in local dispensaries. I’ve visited probably 30 dispensaries. I do like two-hour visits, hang with them and do photographs and talk about the pot. They’re like, “Wow,” and the marijuana was such great quality, people really started liking the marijuana. And then it was kind of a whispered thing, “Belushi started it.” So I felt good, I felt like I earned my place. Then I put my name on it. I wasn’t slapping my name on it, trying to license it and make money. I’ve become part of the Oregon family. I’m very welcome there, people are very nice to me. I’m working with [the] OLCC (Oregon Liquor Control Commission) in the city of Portland. I’m meeting with them to create an opiate trade program in downtown Portland. There are some difficulties in it because you can’t really trade opiates, but we’re working with other growers to give away cannabis, so they can use it for medicine in lieu of alcohol or opiates.
How do you reverse the stigma that has plagued cannabis for several generations?
People that watched According to Jim are gonna say, “Belushi’s a good guy, a nice guy, he’s not apologizing but you know what? If he says it’s all right, I’ll microdose and see if it helps my arthritis.” Like I said, you know, I’ll stand and treat them. My mother-in-law, they all looked at me with some sense of honesty and credibility. And they see that I’m not chasing the money. You know, all of it goes back to John, [and] brings it full circle. It’s like . . . It’s just meaningful.
Photo courtesy Belushi’s Farm
“So, the big mission statement is the wellness of cannabis helps people with Alzheimer’s, seizures, headaches, anxiety, back aches, PTSD. It also enhances, and sparks creativity, enhances the sound of music, the touch of your lover’s skin, and also brings a feeling of joy and euphoria that we should never feel guilty about experiencing. That’s all the wellness of cannabis. I feel I’m in the right place for my heart.”
Tell me about your Cherry Pie strain, and why people are calling it the “Marriage Counselor”?
It happens every evening. My wife will ask, “You hungry, honey?” I’ll tell her yes. She’ll ask, “What do you have a taste for?” “Well, like a cheeseburger.” “That’s a little heavy for me. Is there anything else you’d like?” “Well, you know what I really have a taste for then is sushi.” “I know but I had sushi with my mom last night. Anyplace else?” Then I’ll get agitated and say, “Why are you asking me what I want for dinner, when you know we’re just going where you want to go and we’re gonna eat what you want to eat! Why are you wasting my damn time?” Well now, before I come downstairs, I take a little hit of Cherry Pie. My wife will ask, “Hey Jim, you hungry?” “Yeah.” “Where do you want to go?” “Baby, we can go to Taco Bell as long as you’re sitting across from me.” It makes me empathetic, it makes me charming. She doesn’t even know I’m high, because I’m not really that high. I’m just a really nice good guy. And so I said I call it the “Marriage Counselor.”
Photo courtesy Belushi’s Farm
Are you interested in expansion, or are you happy with your current footprint?
I talk to a billionaire a week that wants to expand my business. And I’m just taking my time, I mean there are eight legal states and we live in a country that has 50. This isn’t going anywhere, it’s just growing. I want to make sure, because it’s such a young industry, which partners to partner up with that’s gonna keep it alive with the quality control that I’m interested in, the message.
Do you use cannabis for creativity, or do you use it more for recreation?
I use it not to fight with my wife before dinner. I do a little chocolate when I’m taking a long flight. I do a little bit to sleep. I never do anything before I perform, whether it’s alcohol or cannabis. Because why would I try to enhance something that’s already magic? So I don’t compound it. I use it for kind of a mood stabilizer, when I start getting uptight or anxious or start feeling old PTSD rushes of like anger, or start getting down on myself. I’ll take a little bit of Cherry Pie until I get a perspective. Instead of letting my mind and my ego run me into the ground, which is caused from trauma. You know, whether it’s the collapse of my family, the death of John, divorces that I’ve had. The number one fear in life is death, the number two fear in life is the collapse of family. I believe that everybody has a trauma that they’re experiencing and needs some kind of medicine. By the way, medicine can also be yoga, or jogging. You know, these great physical things that bring the endorphins and the endocannabinoids in line with homeostasis of the body. So, I’m not saying this is the only medicine, I’m just saying it’s better than opioids and it’s better than alcohol. It’s safer, it’s cleaner, it’s nonviolent, it’s peaceful, it’s enlightening. So, the big mission statement is [that] the wellness of cannabis helps people with Alzheimer’s, seizures, headaches, anxiety, back aches [and] PTSD. It also enhances, and sparks creativity, enhances the sound of music, the touch of your lover’s skin, and also brings a feeling of joy and euphoria that we should never feel guilty about experiencing. That’s all the wellness of cannabis. I feel I’m in the right place for my heart.