Article written in collaboration with Natán Ponieman.
If you’ve got the blues, brothers and sisters, Jim Belushi has something special lined up for you: some good ole’ weed from Belushi’s Farm, and a new reality TV show.
The actor, musician and now legal cannabis farmer is combining his talents to show the world his learning experience from performer to cultivator.
While having breakfast in Cartagena, Colombia, overlooking the Caribbean Sea from a hotel’s 40th floor, the actor told us everything about his new cannabis venture, and the unique approach that comes from combining his passion for cannabis with his love of music.
Belushi was in Colombia researching cannabis strains for his farm. The same fields that grew the cocaine that ended with his brother John’s life, now bear the fruit of healing.
In the words of Dan Aykroyd, “if John had been a pothead, he’d still be alive today.”
His new show, Growing Belushi, premieres on Discovery on August 19 at 10 PM ET/PT, and includes a good portion of the footage shot in the South American country.
‘We Almost Called It Growing Pains!’
Jim Belushi is a man of many talents. From his early days as part of the cast of Saturday Night Live in the mid-80s, Belushi has been surprising us time and again with his ability to reinvent himself and exploit his many -apparently endless- skills.
Perhaps, Growing Belushi is a chance for us mortals to learn from the master.
How does he dive into a new field and become a respected expert?
In his new show, the cameras will follow Belushi as he becomes a pundit in the craft of growing quality cannabis. This new venture, in his own words, is much more than a business, it’s a new life goal.
“Everything grows in Growing Belushi. The cannabis, the business, the family. And especially me. We almost called it Growing Pains!,” he said.
The cannabis industry can be a challenging environment for any entrepreneur. But Belushi tackles it with joy.
“All the regulations they give us, we attack with pride. I want to show you that this can be a legitimate business, a legitimate agricultural business. There are problems and you have to get through them creatively.”
Farming is all about problem-solving, he told us. And this is something he became versed in during his long career in cinema and television.
“Everything has its challenge and I’ve always believed in facing challenges straight up, allowing magic to happen. There are challenges to shooting movies and that’s just part of the process. The same thing goes for growing marijuana. The barrier is not knowing what you have until you harvest it. You have to prepare, prepare, prepare, and strategize and study,” he said.
Soil And Soul, Music And Weed
Belushi purchased his 93-acre farm along the Rogue River in southern Oregon in 2015, after he fell in love with the land. The idea to grow marijuana came afterwards, inspired by his life-long respect and connection to the plant.
This project, which combines Jim’s passion for cannabis with his love of music, is defined by a unique approach. Jim calls it “music mischievous as a mission from God.”
But what the hell does that even mean?
“I think it really sums up cannabis: mission from God is the medicine; the music is the joy that comes from the dance; and mischievous is the fun,” he said.
Belushi takes growing cannabis as seriously as he takes his music and his acting career.
“I take this grower’s attitude; I take it as an artist,” he confessed.
“I’m an actor. When I get a script, I read the script, then I read it again. I memorize it, I study it, I create a past for the character, I exercise my mind with the character.”
These methods, he applies to cannabis cultivation with just as much rigor.
“I study the plant, I study the cultivars, the nutrients and the history, so I can own what my relationship is with them,” he told us.
But as with any artistic endeavour, technique is only half of the show. The rest is completed with heart. Belushi told us he sings and plays harmonica to the plants. He gives them names and plays them music while they grow. Before they’re harvested, the plants at Belushi’s Farm are showered with gospel music.
“We play this gospel music to let them know they are going to the heavens – they are going to have an afterlife helping people. It’s love, love, love, love, love.”
Good Ugly Weed
Aside from Beluhi’s signature brands, which include The Blues Brothers, Belushi’s Secret Stash, and Captain Jack’s Gulzar Afghanica, the actor and entrepreneur has an original new concept.
“Good Ugly Weed is just that: it’s really good, ugly weed,” says Belushi with his trademark straightforwardness.
The idea for the brand came from an analysis of Oregon’s oversupplied market. In the Beaver State, where Belushi’s Farm is located, manufacturers buy ugly-looking flowers to be used for the extraction of concentrates. These are parts of the same high-quality plants, with all the same premium characteristics, but just not as good-looking.
“I thought: ‘wait a minute, these guys have really good weed and they’re giving it away for $350 a pound’,” said Belushi. “So I said, let’s buy it for 350, give the farmer credit and sell it at a good price for people.”
Turns out, a big percentage of consumers are more interested in getting high-quality cannabis for a good price, than in getting good-looking cannabis. And this demand can help get some of this “left-over” weed away from the unregulated market.
On The Horizon
So what’s next for Mr. Belushi?
The artist disclosed that Select, a brand owned by publicly traded Curaleaf, is making a vape pen out of Captain Jack’s cannabis, aka The Smell of SNL. The product will be available in Oregon this September.
In addition, Grassroots is releasing The Blues Brothers brand across its new Skokie, Illinois dispensary starting September.
Last but not least, Belushi is passionately working with the team at Last Prisoner Project, a group of cannabis industry leaders and artists focused on bringing restorative justice to the cannabis industry by helping release non-violent cannabis offenders.
“A while back, Steve DeAngelo engaged me in the Last Prisoner Project, a beautiful initiative that’s dear to my heart. Over 40,000 cannabis prisoners in the United States are incarcerated for nonviolent cannabis offenses. Communities of color are subject to disproportionate marijuana enforcement practices. All of this is happening while many are profiting legally off the same plant. We’re doing our best to raise funds and awareness to release these individuals with clemency, and to help them with reentry,” he voiced.
In all of his endeavors, Belushi has one thing in mind: giving back to the people. Whether it’s through music, comedy or cannabis, love is the common denominator.