Q&A with Jim Belushi: Founder of Belushi’s Farm
The Cannabis 50 highlights the pioneers and innovators helping push the cannabis, hemp and CBD industries forward. In addition to the 2019 Cannabis 50 Impact Review, we are also sharing interviews with our honorees to help spread their message of positivity and growth.
When Jim Belushi started growing cannabis on his Oregon farm a little over four years ago he had no idea how difficult, and spiritually and personally rewarding, this path would prove to be. We talked with Jim about how he got into cannabis, the obstacles he faces today, and the healing potential of cannabis that has become his “mission from God.”
MGO: What was the initial spark that led you to starting a cannabis farm?
Jim Belushi: I have property along the Rogue River, which happens to be what’s referred to as the ‘Banana Belt’ in Oregon. We’ve got about 290 days a year of sun, so it’s the perfect growing conditions for pears, grapes and...cannabis. A while back, the farm behind me became available, so I acquired those 80 acres, and I didn’t know what to grow! That was the year Oregon went legal, so I thought ‘ah, let’s grow cannabis, why the hell not?’
MGO: Was the plan to always grow cannabis as a business? Or did it start as a hobby?
Belushi: It was always going to be a business project, to at least keep the farm paying for itself. But, it has turned into this marvelous kind of journey — not only of self-discovery, but of cultural discovery.
MGO: Regarding self-discovery, in what ways has cannabis helped you along your personal path?
Belushi: Well, the plant has led me to many dispensary visits where I’ve met veterans, men and women who’ve been in car accidents, people struggling with mental illness, and I’ve watched them go through healing processes thanks to medical cannabis.
In reverse, the experience has made me search through my traumas and realize how they’ve affected me. The proper use of cannabis can soothe and heal the PTSD that I believe nearly everyone is suffering from, to different degrees
For example, in my family, my mother lost her brother in World War II. That trauma affected her family and it was carried on into my generation. Then, John dying was another trauma that will carry on for five more generations of my family.
Instead of seeking out alcohol, pills, sex, gambling or violence, cannabis is a safe, beautiful plant that can soothe these traumas we are all victims of.
MGO: Is your goal to share that healing potential with as many people as you can?
Belushi: Yes! We are shooting a TV show on the farm and we recently went to Colombia for two weeks to seek out and understand the legacy of Pablo Escobar. This one man traumatized hundreds of thousands of families, just in that country, and that trauma will last five generations. And, he directly traumatized my family through my brother’s overdose… and many, many other families in the United States.
To me, if we could knock out all their coca fields out and replace them with cannabis, then Colombia could heal the world. They have growing experience, a perfect climate, and incredible strains.
MGO: How has cannabis affected you personally? Do you feel more at peace with the traumas you referred to or have you had powerful realizations?
Belushi: Oh yes (laughs), many realizations! They keep coming rapidly. I could talk forever about that, but let’s just say it’s deepened my understanding of what trauma is, how it affects families, how it collapses families, and how trauma collapsed my family.
Cannabis, I believe, can help families stop the continuum of collapse and bring some healing back.
MGO: Celebrities are engaging cannabis in a wide variety of ways, everything from slapping their names on some packaging, to literally digging their hands into the earth, as you are doing. How important of a role do celebrities and entertainers have in the cannabis industry as it moves forward?
Belushi: Everybody in our industry has their own journey, but I believe we will all get to the same place, promoting the healing power of cannabis. It’s a mission from God. We just need to keep the mission in mind, always, and not get seduced by politics and money. Let the plant lead us in the way we are supposed to go.
I’m a little different because I’m a grower. We just took the soil out. We are tarping it. We’ll burn through it and replace it with new soil. I’m hanging it, drying, and curing the cannabis. I’m taking it to the marketplace and meeting with people… so, I’m all in! (laughs).
MGO: You’ve really turned this into a passion project and gotten into the art and science of cultivation.
Belushi: I’m really digging it. It’s rewarding on so many levels. The only reward I haven’t received is money! My dream is to break even. Because the gravy comes when everybody is aware of the healing that is possible.
I’m not a really huge consumer of cannabis because I have a low THC tolerance level. I just do a little microdosing to manage my own stuff. I have a strain, Cherry Pie, and we call it the 'Marriage Counselor.' It really helps me get along with the wife. It helps me be sweet, charming, and empathetic.
MGO: What advice would you give an entrepreneur seeking to enter the cannabis industry at this stage?
Belushi: Don’t run into hemp, slow down, and partner with people who have been in cannabis for a while. It is not a get-rich-quick scheme like people seem to think. It’s complicated. I’ve been in it for over four years and I’m constantly learning new things.
Right now, it is a hard business to make a lot of money in. There’s 280E, the unregulated market remains. That’s why I’m saying I just want to break even. Break even, help people, and get those people out of jail!
MGO: How important are causes to the root purpose of Belushi’s Farm?
Belushi: I’ve found myself in a spot in Oregon that is a vortex of spirituality. The river’s spirit is right next to me. We’re situated between Mount McLoughlin and Table Rock. The Native Americans have lived here for centuries and there is a spirituality that you feel as you walk through...like a heat wave.
I think that spirituality is helping guide the purpose of our farm. “Help ever, hurt never.” That’s the way I look at it. My cause is helping veterans, people on the street, anyone suffering from tremendous trauma who can’t find anything to soothe them. It’s a personal mission because it comes from my family’s experiences as well.
MGO: Who else do you see as a pioneer in making a positive impact on the cannabis industry?
Belushi: There’s one person who comes to mind — Steve DeAngelo. He’s stubborn and doesn’t quit. He always carries the mission with him and he has the balls to fight the government. He looks them right in the eye because he really does believe. He’s the deepest believer I know and that belief gives him strength. He fights the government over taxation, over the people still in jail. He’s a mentor and a leader. He’s the man.