Jim Belushi has a lifetime of memories shaped by cannabis.
When he talks about Oregon’s favorite weed, he reflects on his family, the fun times at “Saturday Night Live” and, yeah, his rocking 2018 harvest party.
The famous actor, singer and community supporter describes a spiritual connection to the marijuana he’s growing on his 93-acre spread near Eagle Point, known as the Belushi Farm, and its 22,000-square-foot state licensed grow.
He’s even got “Captain Jack” on board cultivating from seed the same strain of “Afghanica” that he provided to help inspire the cast and writers of “Saturday Night Live” — dubbed “the smell of SNL.” Captain Jack, as he likes to be called, went to Afghanistan in the 1970s to bring back the special seeds that produce a strain enjoyed by Belushi.
“Where do you think Coneheads came from? That weed,” said the 64-year-old Belushi, his voice hoarse from singing at his party last weekend. The Coneheads depicted an alien family with cones for heads that was a popular skit on “SNL” in the 1970s.
Belushi started his cannabis enterprise three years ago with a 48-plant medical marijuana grow that has expanded into the greenhouses, equipment and manpower to compete in an ever-changing cannabis industry. He’s undergoing a brand change from Rogue’s Lair to Belushi’s Private Vault.
He has painstakingly restored old barns and outbuildings, and built a dramatic timber-framed house with views of the Rogue River.
With his ever-present stogie dangling from his mouth, Belushi jokes that his day job pays for this latest venture.
Belushi and other local cannabis growers have invested heavily in this new industry, watching with concern a market glutted with product and plummeting prices.
“It’s worrying everyone,” Belushi said.
But the worrying went out the window last weekend for his harvest party.
“We had 500 guests, and 490 of them were smoking,” he said with a grin.
Belushi’s Private Vault is being sold at dispensaries in Southern Oregon, and the label will feature his 1,200 pounds of premium quality flower, including Captain Jack’s Gulzar Afghanica and Belushi’s favorite, Cherry Pie, which he said makes him a better husband. “It’s the marriage counselor,” he joked.
Captain Jack said he collected the seeds from Afghanistan and brought them back to the states for cultivation. While many growers prefer to clone plants, Captain Jack grows from seed.
“Most other people have gone in a different direction and hybridized,” he said.
Captain Jack describes his plant as having a very wide leaf, joking that it resembles cabbage leaves.
“I defy most people on this planet to tell me it’s a pot plant,” he said.
When Belushi talks about marijuana, he often mentions his brother, John Belushi, who died in 1982 after a battle with drugs and was known for his outrageous comedic abilities.
“I wish we’d known then about marijuana being a medicine,” Belushi said.
He remembers his older brother practicing for his role as Samurai, trying to get the character just right while swinging a sword.
“He would literally exercise his eyebrows in front of a mirror,” he said.
Belushi thinks a lot about his mother and father, both of Albanian descent, who raised him in Chicago.
“It’s funny, the older I get the more I miss them,” he said. “I miss my dad more than anything, especially being out on the farm. He would have liked riding horses. He had a little ranch up in Julian, California.”
Belushi has a lot of different views about the benefits of marijuana as medicine and his own personal relationship with it.
He likens his affinity to cannabis to the way flowers attract bees, and some flowers will actually enclose their petals around the bee to help it extract as much pollen as possible.
“I feel like that bee that is brought in and held until I get everything about it,” Belushi said. “It has come really deep into my heart, my body and my spiritual nature. It’s brought me to the medicine. It’s brought me full circle to my brother John.”
He said cannabis would be a better alternative than opioids for those getting over trauma, particularly for veterans who suffer from the psychic scars of war.
He said whether it’s war or a person’s own conflicts, people are always looking for some kind of medicine. The number one fear in life, Belushi said, is the fear of death, and the number two fear is the collapse of the family.
“I come from a collapsed family, emotionally,” he said.
He said a lot of people in his generation have experienced collapsed families, and they end up reaching for their own medicine.
“And it was marijuana,” he said. “But they didn’t identify it as marijuana. It was just getting high.”
In some cases, such as with his brother, it was a gateway drug that led to other drugs, he said.
But many of the issues his brother had were related to brain issues from his high school football days, evidenced by the seizures he’d have from time to time, Belushi said.
“If we knew back in the ‘70s what we know today, more people would be alive, including my brother,” he said.