I met Jim Belushi for the first time in 2019 at his riverside farmhouse in southern Oregon. Belushi’s cousin Chris greeted me at the airport and drove me to the farm where we met Jim outside, a half-smoked cigar between his fingers and an inviting smile on his face.
Belushi’s Farm was just finding its footing, and he graciously took me on a tour of the property, from barns to greenhouses, lingering eagerly over his favorite cultivars. It’s easy to fall in love with this region of Oregon. Its climate is ideal for cannabis production, offering gentle rain storms and cool breezes, even during the height of summer.
It’s inspiring to see how the farm has grown and changed, implementing newer technologies into the greenhouses and bringing in a larger staff to tend to an expansive variety of cultivars. Belushi’s Farm has grown from one license in Oregon to 14 licenses across the country.
In this interview, Belushi shares how he’s adapting to growth and what’s changed for the farm as it’s matured into a multi-state headquarters with a full-time film crew.
Growing Belushi wrapped its third season earlier this year, offering viewers a glimpse into the industry with a bit of reality TV mixed in.
This interview is adapted from Episode 132 of Cannabis Tech Talks. Visit the Cannabis & Tech Today YouTube channel to see the interview in action.
Cannabis & Tech Today: What have you found most rewarding about sharing Growing Belushi with the world?
JB: Well, there are a lot of people out there who are still very ignorant about cannabis, intelligent people who just don’t know anything about it. The most rewarding thing is bringing on new consumers and giving them a little confidence.
The whole purpose is to bring confidence to cannabis. So I think the most rewarding thing is seeing people be educated a little bit, bringing their confidence up to take a shot at it.
C&T Today: Growing Belushi is available on cable and streaming channels. I think it’s important for viewers to have access to it that way, where they can watch on their own time without feeling judged for being curious about something that has been considered taboo for so long.
JB: Yeah, and the show is not about stoners. Nobody’s getting high on my show. It’s not like we’re sitting around smoking grass. It’s really about the industry. It’s about the struggle in the industry, and it’s about the medicine.
You can’t make a lot of claims on TV; they cut a lot of stuff out where we were talking about how it helps people. Discovery doesn’t want to get a lawsuit.
Last season we did a whole section on making [Rick Simpson Oil]. And we had to cut out the special ingredient and couldn’t claim it helped with cancer.
I think they ended up cutting the whole thing. But again, those kinds of things I’ve saved and put them on YouTube.
There is so much material we shot that the parameters of Discovery wouldn’t allow, but on YouTube you can put it up.
So I’m starting a YouTube channel with the extra episodes, with extra scenes that were cut out.
C&T Today: How are you seeing international perceptions change around cannabis?
JB: We shot something where I went and spoke at a school.
These young people — college age — I couldn’t believe the blowback I got from these young people about cannabis. They were saying things that were said in the United States in the 60s.
“Oh, it leads to harder drugs!” I was shocked. There is a prevailing sentiment that is still present on that side of the world about cannabis. So the more TV shows we do, the more press we do … It’s floating it up, but I think it’s still slow.
C&T Today: Belushi’s Farm is now licensed in 14 states. What’s been the biggest change during that evolution?
JB: We had choices, in every state, of different growers. I have to go down there and check it out to make sure their context is right, that they’re on the medicine trail and not just on the money trail.
[We] make sure their standing operating procedures are similar to ours. Checking out their equipment, making sure they have dehumidifiers.
Checking out their grow, checking out how they process it, and what they’re manufacturing. Some of them are manufacturing fantastic edibles.
There are some great cooks out there and most, if not all, are in it for a reason. I have to make sure in every state that they’re doing it the way I believe, but I’ve learned a lot from them, too. It’s fun collaborating with them.
On the show we go through in Massachusetts and make brick hash and do the whole process. We’ve got this guy, Vinny, he’s a scientist.
Hell, that brick hash is fabulous. It’s selling out everywhere in the state, and it’s like, “Wow, can we bring this brick hash and this formulation processing to Shelbyville in Illinois?” What’s difficult is a lot
C&T Today: Is there any advice you’d like to share with our readers?
JB: Well, to the industry folks, don’t give up. Hold on. And don’t be afraid to fire your grower. There are a lot of growers out there, good ones.
Growers are like chefs, temperamental. Everybody asks me what’s my number one advice for someone that’s growing, my number one advice is don’t be afraid to fire your grower.
Don’t let him box you in a position where you can’t exist without him. That’s just not true. Sometimes you get rid of a grower, get a new one, and suddenly things really bloom. So don’t be afraid.
To the high-end consumer, we’re bringing great weed to your state because the birth of it’s in Oregon. When they break down those federal lines and we can ship it, it’s going to be Napa wine.
We grow the greatest cannabis. I don’t know, it’s the air, it’s the water. It’s like pizza crust and bagels in New York. It’s like, why is it so good there? It’s the water.
This article first appeared in Volume 5 Issue 2 of Cannabis & Tech Today. Read the full issue here.