BY: JENNIFER WALKER In his own words, Belushi’s Farm was created as a gateway to healing. After being called to (and later inheriting more) land that rests against the edge of the Rogue River in picturesque Eagle Point, Oregon, Jim Belushi has turned over a new leaf in the literal sense. Farming 93-acres of perfectly […]
BY: JENNIFER WALKER
In his own words, Belushi’s Farm was created as a gateway to healing. After being called to (and later inheriting more) land that rests against the edge of the Rogue River in picturesque Eagle Point, Oregon, Jim Belushi has turned over a new leaf in the literal sense. Farming 93-acres of perfectly balanced soil that nourishes his notable Cherry Pie flower and a myriad of strains, Belushi has found an oasis of plant medicine for himself and for his community. Drawing from his experience as a trauma survivor, a public figure and a lover of the Blues (and “The Blues Brothers”) Belushi uses his platform as a cannabis advocate and grower to provide flower to the people.
Jennifer Walker: What got you started in the cannabis industry and how are you involved in the industry now?
Jim Belushi: Well it was an accident. A total accident. I have this beautiful property on the Rogue River in southern Oregon right in the middle of what they call the Banana Belt, and it happens to include perfect growing conditions for pears, grapes and cannabis. I have 93 acres and I thought, well, what am I going to grow? Recreational cannabis had just become legal in Oregon so I was talking to Dan Aykroyd about it and he said, “Ohhh…if you’re going to grow Jimmy, you gotta talk to Captain Jack!” I talked to Captain Jack (who has a great story and a great strain) and then I talked to another grower named Jeffrey Iverson who’s a great geneticist originally out of San Francisco. I ran into him a few years ago because he had a strain called “White Lights” which was my reintroduction back to cannabis. I hadn’t smoked for years, decades even, because I was scared of it. But his was the only strain that I liked…it made me feel good, I felt chatty, I was clear-headed, I was social. I was not paranoid or anxious. I was like wow, is this how cannabis is now? So I began growing 48 medical plants- 24 of Jeffrey Iverson’s and 24 of Captain Jack’s- and that’s how it all got started.
JW: You mention Jack, and I know that there is a backstory there regarding him and knowing him from SNL. It’s incredible that you still have a relationship with him knowing him from that long ago!
JB: It was Danny (Aykroyd) who had the relationship with him, he was the weed dealer for SNL in the mid-70s. That’s where “The Coneheads” and all of those sketches came from- they came out of the creative power of this plant. Jack’s strain is really special, it’s a social strain, a creative strain, a powerful strain- and it made me think, I can see the writers room right now, laughing, trading jabs and jokes because this strain really allows you to explore and heighten. If you smoke too much of Captain Jack’s, it’ll put you on the couch!
JW: You have to find the sweet spot, I guess…
JB: I’m all about the microdosing. I accidentally got into this because cannabis suddenly became the new agriculture in Oregon. I looked at it as a farming business. At first I thought, ok maybe it’ll just pay for the expenses of running the farm; it was really about making a farm work. I have been taken on a journey by these girls (the plants) for the last 5 years. I have been lead closer to my heart, closer to my soul, closer to the community, closer to healing, not only for myself but understanding the power of the cannabis plant for others who suffer from pain, anxiety, PTSD, and the multitude of afflictions that we live with in this society and in this world. And, fun! Which is not an affliction, it’s a gift.
JW: I really like that you are helping out Veterans and those who suffer with PTSD…
JB: The Veterans and the NFL players, people who have suffered from great loss/trauma, they need cannabis. But I believe that everybody has experienced trauma, whether it’s the loss of a job, abandonment, a disease afflicting a member of the family, a divorce, or a sudden death. These losses contribute strongly to the collapse of family. Just like within my family (with my brother). The number one fear in life is death and the number two fear is the collapse of the family. I believe that this medicine, dosing it correctly, can contribute to families not collapsing. It soothes the electrical current of the endocannabinoids rushing through their system. There’s miracle after miracle around this plant. It’s public knowledge that I suffered a huge trauma with the loss of my brother to a drug overdose. My family exploded, it went to rubble. This complicated grief has stayed with me my entire life. I have been recovering ever since. I find that microdosing oil or flower really soothes this type of trauma and it’s opened my mind and put me on a journey of healing within my own family. I’ve learned so much, I’ve met so many people who have been suffering, a lot of Veterans with PTSD who can’t sleep or talk to their children, people with aches and pains, loss of limbs, chronic illness, you name it. But on the flipside of all of the difficult things that cannabis can help with, we have to mention the joy that cannabis can bring you! What’s-a-matter with feelin’ good? It enhances the sound of music, it sparks creativity, enhances the taste of food, it stimulates the touch of your lover’s skin, it brings joy, laughter, euphoria…all of that is the wellness of cannabis.
JW: That’s a fantastic synopsis of how cannabis can help people and really enrich lives medically, socially and spiritually for both medical and recreational users!
JB: I’m not a big smoker because I have a low THC tolerance, so I just do a little hit here and there just to balance myself. It’s lovely and it’s helped me a lot.
JW: What is your preferred method of consumption?
JB: I have a beautiful oil made from my “Cherry Pie” that I call “The Marriage Counselor”. Imagine the scene, it goes like this:
I come downstairs at night, my wife will ask if I’m hungry and I’ll say “Yes…”
She’ll say, “let’s go out, what do you have a taste for?”
“Oh Jim, that’s a little heavy for me. Anything else? How ‘bout some sushi? Or that natural food place? Oh wait… cilantro, cilantro, cilantro… they put cilantro on everything! I can’t stand cilantro…”
And I’ll say, “what are you wasting my time for when you know damn well we’re going to eat what you want to eat, where you want to eat?!”
So now, I take a hit off of my “Cherry Pie”, and when I come downstairs, she goes, “Are you hungry? ”
“What do you have a taste for Jim? ”
And I’ll say, “Baby, we can go to Taco Bell as long as you’re sitting across from me”
“Aren’t you being charming!”
And I go, “am I?”
I’m completely functional, much more empathetic, much sweeter, much more present, I listen, and she doesn’t even know I took a hit! That’s why I call it “The Marriage Counselor”. I told this story at my Harvest Festival last year, and my “Cherry Pie” was sold out in two months! “Where’s the Marriage Counselor? My husband needs it!” I hear this all the time.
JW: (laughs) That’s hilarious! Tell us a little bit about the Harvest Party…
JB: This past one was our third Harvest Party, we had 500 people here at the farm. I had a band- horns, keyboards and guitars, I had Johnny Wheels (one of the best harmonica players players and blues singers in Oregon) playing. He had an accident when he was 12 and he’s paralyzed from the chest down, and cannabis soothes his nerve spasms that he can’t control and the music has liberated him. The have both saved his life. The Harvest Party was a benefit for him to help raise money to get him a disability van so that he can travel to his shows, shop, have some independence because it’s hard on his family. It almost contributed to the collapse of his family. Again, this is an example of how every family has some kind of trauma. We raised a lot of money for Johnny, almost $60,000, and Dan Akyroyd came…he drove up in his Bluesmobile, he came up on stage, we did some Blues Brothers and sang with Johnny and Guitar Shorty- it was great and Johnny Wheels just ordered his new disability van.
JW: What else are you working on within the cannabis realm?
Jim: I’m filming a T.V. show around cannabis, the farm and Oregon, and it has the elements of the Blues Brothers in it. It’s financed by Live Nation, we’ve got 6 episodes and it’s going to be out at the end of the 1st quarter. It’s not a “stoner” show, it’s a real show about the growing cannabis community, our industry, and my personal growth through the world of cannabis. We went down to Colombia for 2 weeks to film and improvised every day, discovered every day…it’s a funny, funny, funny show with a deep message of medicine. It walks the line beautifully. We just finished filming the 5th episode, right now it’s called “Belushi’s Secret Stash”, it’s going to be the only of its kind. It will promote everything in our industry: The joy, the medicine, and the healing. The Blues Brothers brand represents music, mischievousness, and “A Mission From God”…which is everything that cannabis is.
JW: That really ties in all of these ideas. As a Chicago gal myself, I’m happy to hear that the Blues Brothers story lives on! Talk a little bit about the brand…
JB: In a way, the Blues Brothers and everything it stands for brings back (for me) the trauma of John’s death. It not only helps to heal that trauma, but it makes his death not be in vain. I say that because the opiate problem in America is horrible, and I believe if we can just get some cannabis in these people who are suffering, in pain, and addicted, it may lead them to some enlightenment from the light that comes in through this plant. I’m working on a program in Portland that’s a “pay what you can” dispensary. People can pay just what they can afford. We already know we’re going to get nickels and dimes from the homeless and the helpless (we’re hoping that this will lead them to healing) but there will also be people who want to pay a little bit more, the extra dollar will go to people who need it. And when people pay a little more, they get a sticker that says “I Paid More Today,” like the “I Voted Today” stickers. I truly believe that people in each community want to help the people in their community. I think it’s going to be a very successful model and I’d like to actually take it across the United States.
JW: I can see how all of these things, the “pay what you can” model and the Harvest Parties helping to raise funds and awareness…all of these efforts are really great ways of giving back.
JB: Well people always use that phrase “giving back”, I don’t understand that phrase. I don’t know why the word “back” is in there…
JW: Hmmm…giving to?
JB: I think it’s just about giving, period! What’s great about cannabis is that it creates a generosity of spirit- with family (with “The Marriage Counselor”), with healing, with Veterans, NFL players, with the joyfulness of having fun at a concert, and it helps people to just be nice to each other. I was a bouncer in Chicago years ago, and I never broke up a fight between two potheads!
JW: (laughs) That’s an excellent point…
JB: I mean, maybe they were bickering over a bag of Cheetos, but that’s about it…
JW: Hug it out, guys! Speaking of Chicago, and Illinois specifically, a lot of people don’t realize that Illinois is about 80% farmland. There’s one giant city, a few smaller urban areas, and then, farmland…
JB: Well, my grade school was next to a cornfield, so…
JW: Growing up in this way, did you have any background farming knowledge that you are applying now to what you’re doing on your cannabis farm?
JB: The extent of my childhood farming knowledge was running through cornfields with my buddies when we were kids (laughs) so I’m learning the farming stuff now. It’s so engaging and exciting! I’m so fully engaged in the process right now…the soil, the nutrients, the temperatures for successful crops, irrigation, moving from a salt based grow to a more organic, natural grow- I’m having a ball learning about farming! Actually as soon as we’re done with this conversation, they’re pulling my “Cherry Pie” out of the greenhouse. I’m going to hang it and cure it, then trim it. I’m just loving it.
JW: Do you have a large team helping you?
JB: This time of year, I have a larger team assisting with pulling, harvesting, hanging, trimmers who are trimming and then I have a joint rolling program where I have a bunch of ladies rolling joints. It’s a great feeling, we have a great time doing this. All of our products are also lab-tested and tracked, so we’re completely compliant up here in Oregon. It’s the best way to be- compliant. It makes all our products safe to consume.
JW: Are you planning on branching out into other markets, such as Nevada?
JB: I’m in quite a few discussions and looking to branch out not only in various national markets, but also globally. Everybody seems really interested in the Blues Brothers, especially because that, in and of itself really is a brand, it’s not just a pretty package with a logo on it. It really represents “A Mission From God”…and all that goes with that sentiment. We can’t even keep it on the shelves here in Oregon, so the outlook is good.
JW: That’s great! And as we see other states open up with legalization, it’ll get even more exciting. Come January 2020, Illinois will welcome recreational legalization, too.
JB: I wanna drive a Bluesmobile with a big joint strapped on top of it on that legalization day!
JW: I think that’s the coolest idea I’ve heard all day…
For more information visit www.belushisfarm.com