Colombia Calling: Jim Belushi Heads to South America for ExpoCannabiz
Jim Belushi is attending the Cannabis Investing Forum on May 9 for an intimate fireside chat with Michael Miller, the Cannabis Editor of LA Weekly. It’s part of the inaugural ExpoCannabiz Business Conference in Cartagena, Colombia.
Belushi’s also performing with a hot local band during a VIP dinner party onboard a private yacht on the evening of May 8. With more than 150 national and international exhibitors, the Expo is an opportunity to connect with investors and hundreds of businesses at the forefront of the emerging cannabis marketplace in South America. Register here.
Belushi’s absolutely earned his star status as a talented, all-around performer, yet most people don’t know he’s also successful in the cannabis world with his Belushi’s Farm company.
The Cannabis Investor Forum is a perfect blend of Belushi’s two successful worlds. He’s in the midst of developing reality TV projects based on his family’s experience with cannabis. During his trip, he’s traveling with James Orr, the noted writer-director of Mr. Destiny (1990).They’re doing research, location scouting, and filming and meeting with the local cannabis farmers. The seaside city of Cartagena is an excellent place to start and provides easy access to a wide range of potential filming locations.
It’s not exactly shocking to learn that cannabis and the entertainment industry go together like coffee and cream, but to be successful, both businesses require talent, fortitude and vision. Belushi – actor, writer, comedian, musician and cannabis farmer – knows this first hand. It’s fair to say he has deep roots in both worlds.
Belushi’s Long Career in Hollywood
Born in Chicago in 1954, Jim Belushi began his entertainment career in 1977 when he joined the famous Chicago comedy improv group, Second City. In 1979, writer-producer-director Garry Marshall saw him perform and arranged for him to go to Hollywood and co-star in the TV show Who’s Watching the Kids. Next, Belushi joined the cast of Working Stiffs with Michael Keaton, and his Hollywood career took off from there.
From 1983-1985, he wrote and performed on Saturday Night Live, like his older brother John did before him. Thanks to his TV work, movie offers started to come in. He’d already appeared in Michael Mann’s Thief (1981) and John Landis’ Trading Places (1983). But it was his work in Oliver Stone’s Salvador as James Woods’ spacey DJ buddy Dr. Rock and Edward Zwick’s About Last Night with Rob Lowe and Demi Moore – both in 1986 – that brought him serious attention as a film actor. With a bit of irony, he played the defiant high school principal standing up to drug dealers in Christopher Cain’s The Principal in 1987.
Other notable Belushi roles include detectives in Dennis Feldman’s Red Heat (1988) with Arnold Schwarzenegger and Rod Daniels’ K-9 (1989); the mentally handicapped dishwasher befriended by Whoopi Goldberg in the Andrei Konchalovsky’s Homer and Eddie (1989); and a dirty cop in Jim Kouf’s Gang Related (1997)with Tupac Shakur. His most recent film role was the recovering alcoholic in Woody Allen’s Wonder Wheel (2017) with Kat Winslet.
Belushi never left TV behind. He starred in the ABC hit TV comedy According to Jim, as a husband and father of three children from 2001-2009. In 2010-2011, Belushi switched bak to drama on CBS’ The Defenders as a colorful Las Vegas defense attorney who would do anything to win for his clients.
His gravelly voice could also be heard in such animated TV shows as Pinky and the Brain (1995), The Tick (1996), The Mighty Ducks (1996-1997), Hey Arnold (1996-1999), Rugrats (2002) and What’s New, Scooby-Doo? (2002). In 2015, he starred in the Paul Haggis’ HBO miniseries Show Me a Hero and in 2017 appeared in David Lynch’s reboot of the iconic TV classic, Twin Peaks. Suffice to say, Belushi’s been around.
Born Under a Blues Sign
Besides acting, Jim Belushi is also a musician. He and fellow SNL alum Dan Aykroyd perform together as The Blues Brothers (he replaced his brother, who died in 1982). They performed at the SARS benefit in Toronto for over 400,000 people with the Rolling Stones in 2003 and opened for the Stones at Soldier Field in Chicago in 2005. Their album Have Love, Will Travel topped the blues chart in 2003. Belushi also has his own group The Sacred Hearts, which is the official house band for the nationwide House of Blues concert clubs.
Belushi Becomes an Artisanal Cannabis Farmer
Shortly after visiting friends at their ranch in Southern Oregon’s Rogue River Valley while on vacation 12 years ago, he quickly fell in love with the area and purchased a 13-acre homestead in Eagle Point and then another 80 acres when a close friend and fellow farmer passed away. Belushi didn’t set out to become a cannabis farmer. But when Oregon legalized adult-use cannabis in 2014, he changed his mind, beginning with a relatively small grow and eventually expanding into a fully licensed, 22,000-square-foot operation.
Today, he sells his artisanal, signature cannabis directly to Oregon’s finest dispensaries under the brand Belushi’s Private Vault. Strains include Cherry Pie, Blue Dragon and Black Diamond OG. He’s also currently growing a small amount of Captain Jack’s prized strain, Gulzar Afghanica. Back in the early days of Saturday Night Live, the show’s actors and writers called Captain Jack’s cannabis “the smell of SNL.” Not surprisingly, Captain Jack was frequently seen backstage and at after parties following the live show.
“The premium sun-grown genetics are cultivated, hand harvested and cured by a core seven-person team,” he writes on the Belushi’s Farm’s website. “We sun-grow all natural and rigorously tested cannabis. Everyone on this farm has a beautiful way about them because of their intimate work with this plant. It has changed me as a man.”
“If John Was a Pothead, He’d Be Alive Today”
John Belushi rocketed to stardom as one of the seven original cast members of Saturday Night Live from 1974-1979. In 1982, he died from an overdose of cocaine and heroin. Jim adamantly believes that John’s tragic death could have been prevented.
When John played football in high school, Jim witnessed him having a seizure. Jim thinks his brother suffered from Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) caused by too many blows to the head as a middle linebacker. In addition to the party scene so prevalent in the entertainment industry, John may have been using illegal drugs as a way to self-medicate.
“I think what we know about marijuana today, if we knew in the ’70s, a lot more people would be alive, including my brother,” he recently told the Portland Mercury. “Danny Aykryod said, ‘If your brother John was a pothead, he’d be alive today.’”
Belushi readily acknowledges that back then people simply weren’t aware of the plant’s medicinal potential. This is one reason why he became a cannabis advocate.
While he’s a genuine Hollywood star, Belushi is also a genuine, ordinary guy whose heart is in the right place. He’s heavily involved in the local community with projects in and around Jackson County, Oregon. He’s restored the covered stage on his property where the Ashland Elks Lodge still holds their annual picnic. The stage is one of the main reasons why he bought the farm, and he uses it to perform at parties and during harvests.
In the nearby Medford, he’s helping restore the historic Holly Theater. In Eagle Point, he’s involved with rebuilding the Butte Creek Mill, which was destroyed in a 2016 electrical fire.
A Special Commemoration for John
During his trip to Colombia, Belushi plans to embark on an intimate, personal journey. Along with his producer and a camera crew, they’ll visit a plantation where farmers grow coca leaves for processing into cocaine and shoot footage for a new cannabis-based reality TV series they’re developing.
In an emotional tribute to his brother, he’ll lay down in the middle of the coca field, stare directly into camera overhead and shout, “This is what killed my brother!” Helping other families avoid similar tragedies through medical cannabis makes the hard work he and his team put into Belushi’s Farm all worth it. Those kinds of roots grow deep.
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