[Editor’s Note: This is a great interview of Jim Belushi, including the impact his brother’s death had on him and his family.]
When actor and musician Jim Belushi talks Saturday Night Live’s early years—back when his brother served as a founding cast member and the show’s original wild card—he characterizes weed as “the smell of SNL.”
Specifically, he remembers a strain called Captain Jack’s, the scent of which hung around the writer’s room like an aura of grease at a pizza shop.
Belushi says he will soon release the rare, legendary cultivar through his cannabis production facility located in Eagle Point, Oregon dubbed Belushi’s Farm.
John is working to establish the first ever opiates-for-cannabis trade-in program.
While he’s proud to bring Captain Jack’s to Oregon’s recreational consumers, Belushi only wishes that his brother John had taken to it the way his peers had. Instead, John embraced harder drugs and ultimately died from a combined overdose of heroin and cocaine—the same LA speedball that’s become infamous as a tragic punctuation to the narratives of numerous celebrated actors, musicians, and entertainers.
But Belushi has long accepted that he can’t change the past. Instead, he’s taken it as his personal mission to create exit doors on the nation’s ongoing opioid epidemic—which, according to the CDC, claimed more than 40,000 American lives in 2016 alone. To do so, he’s working to establish the first ever opiates-for-cannabis trade-in program.
We recently caught up with Belushi when he was in Gresham, Oregon at Nectar Cannabis, where he met fans, slang some dope, and spread the cannabis gospel.
Jim Belushi and His Rise in the Cannabis Community
In a money counting room and during a drive around Portland, we discussed Belushi’s path into the cannabis industry, family trauma from losing his brother, and his surreal career trajectory—spanning moments performing with President Clinton to his recent work advocating for opioid reduction measures.
Belushi says that when John died, the trauma irreversibly destabilized his family. After 35 years, he’s still picking up the pieces. Today, he sees a nation of people doing the same—structuring one family with the debris of another. Belushi believes that everyone experiences some form of familial trauma, and that cannabis can help clear the load-bearing wreckage. Here’s his philosophy:
Editor’s Note: Interview has been edited for length and clarity
Leafly: You own a weed farm and are actively moving the plant forward as a form of medicine and therapy, but let’s start with your youth. How did cannabis figure into your upbringing?
Jim Belushi: Well, you know, I will tell you: I got arrested twice in high school for possession. [One time] it was Indiana ragweed, and it wasn’t even any good…
We went to Indiana to pull some weed because we heard it was growing on the roadside. And we pulled a bunch of weeds, but it wasn’t weed. It was just weeds. We didn’t know. We didn’t know what it looked like. But our car broke down and the police came and we had all this stuff in the car. It was a complicated little thing…
Anyway, my dad had to pick me up. I was laying in my bed in an offshoot of the kitchen by the fireplace, and later that night he sat next to me. He put his hand on my arm, which was unusual, and he said, “Jimmy, you want me to take you to the hospital?” And I said, “What?” And he said, “You want me to take you to the hospital?” And I said, “Why?” “You know, the drugs.” I said, “Dad, it’s grass! You know, marijuana! It’s not a drug, it’s nothing to worry about.” He said, “I saw The Man With the Golden Arm.”
You know, Frank Sinatra. It’s about a musician who became a heroin addict. I went, “Oh, Dad. Thank you, but I’m fine.”
As a musician and actor, how does cannabis figure into your professional life now? Does it play a role?
JB: No, no, no. First of all, I have a low tolerance. I’m not a big user because of that. I microdose it. I take like, one hit at a time, you know? It was always recreational in nature. You know, with buddies. I’m very fortunate to be thoroughly engaged in my craft of acting and music and directing, and so I never allow for anything to get between me and my craft.
I don’t drink when I work, I don’t smoke when I work, because my connection to my craft is very personal and spiritual and moving. So to answer your question long, no, I don’t mix the two.
You’ve mentioned managing trauma with cannabis. Can you speak to that a little bit?
JB: Well, yes I can … The number one fear in life is death. The number two fear in life, believe it or not, is the collapse of family.
When John died, whatever was left of the framework just incinerated and burned to the ground. That was a very traumatic experience for my family. And friends. And [John’s] fans. But for us, personally, it’s an out-of-body traumatic feeling.
I believe that everybody experiences trauma through their life one place or another. I believe there’s more severe cases, like a man I met on the [Oregon] coast—a veteran who was a medic in Iraq. He said, “I saw things happen to the human body that nobody should ever see.” He said, “My PTSD is so severe that I can’t even talk to my children and I can’t sleep.” And he said, “Your Black Diamond OG is the only thing that allows me to talk to my children and sleep at night.”
The men that came back from World War I saw horrors. They needed medicine. Alcohol. And then prohibition came in and went, “No.” World War II was even worse. Those men came back, and some of our fathers were stone cold alcoholics from what they saw. And we grew up. We’re adult children of alcoholics, collapsed family, trauma. So they pass on our need for medicine.
I believe if we knew what we know about medicine today—about marijuana today as a medicine—back in the ‘70s, there’d be a lot more people alive, including my brother John. So, trauma. I believe now that we can break down the cannabinoids and terpenes and we can blend strains for specific traumas. I believe that in the area of medicine, that everybody needs medicine.
I can relate to what you’re saying about collapse of family—the process of losing a loved one, of living with that loss, is without a doubt one of the most difficult and protracted traumas that we experience.
JB: There’s a beautiful documentary on Garry Shandling. And you watch his childhood. His brother who he loved deeply had a disease and took his own life when he was 14. But now you have a family circled around this disease, and when his brother died his mother turned to him. And the need—it collapsed the family. It’s not just the veterans who witness [horrors], it’s children of divorce.
I have a friend of mine, many years ago—Second City guy, John [Candy]—and I said to him, “Why are you so funny? You are so funny.” He goes, well, I get it from my family. I said, “Oh yeah, are they funny?” He says, “No.” He says, “My brother died in a car accident by a drunk driver.” He said it was like throwing a hand grenade into the family, with shrap metal ripping through different parts. Family collapsed. And he became funny because he used humor to try to heal the family. It’s an interesting cycle. And I really believe we’re doing great things for our community.
Could you tell me a bit about what you’re doing with the cannabis community and how the farm came about?
I got the old Elks Picnic Grounds, right on the river in Eagle’s Point. It’s 13 acres and I built a house there, refurbished the picnic grounds, and then the property behind me came up. Eighty acres of farmland. And a beautiful woman, Becca, who owned it, wanted me to have it. So before she passed, we made a little: I’d take care of her husband. He’s got a life estate there.
But, ya know, I had a farm and it was like, well, do we put cattle on it? Do we grow hay? Alfalfa? Then, in the state of Oregon, marijuana became legal—it’s like, oh! It’s the new agriculture! So I started with 48 plants. With Captain Jack and the great breeder-grower Jeffrey Iverson out of Bend—he’s got some great stuff; I’m gonna release his stuff in January.
Now I have seven greenhouse and 22,000 square feet of canopy.
How long have you been growing on the land in total? How’s Oregon’s cannabis climate been treating you?
JB: This is my third season. First year was medical, second year I started the commercial, and this is my third year—which, I feel, we’re firing on all cylinders. Except for the over-saturation of the market. Which, when we hold on, when the boundaries come down, everybody knows that Oregon, Northern California, and maybe Washington have the best weed in America.
I have a friend in Colorado who’s a very prominent grower and I said, you know, these borders might come down soon, and he goes, “I hope not! I don’t want all that West Coast weed in Colorado.”
A lot of the best weed that we got when I was growing up on the east coast was from Oregon. That was always synonymous with quality back when black markets were the only option.
JB: Guys are having trouble with that transition in Oregon right now. There’s guys with rec licenses who are selling out the back door. And they’re getting caught. I’m a midwest guy. A straight-up guy, a working-class guy. I came up in restaurants … OLCC created me a license and it’s a privilege. And I’m going to honor them and be compliant because we’re partners.
Members of your team mentioned that you hold a belief that the opioid crisis wouldn’t be what it is today if Americans had greater access to adult-use and medical cannabis. Can you tell me more about that?
JB: I was talking with [Portland-based cannabis attorney] Amy Margolis today about it. I’ve been meeting with the OLCC and policy makers at the governor’s office about trying to create an opiate-trade program—which is difficult because once you bring in opiates, you have to have either law enforcement or a pharmacist or a doctor to receive it. You can’t just give it to a budtender.
We’re trying to come up with an idea, and we’ve been looking at locations in Old Town to create a pop-up dispensary.There’s a little law in the OLCC that allows them to give a rec license to a charity program, and you can give marijuana away for a nominal fee as long as it’s not in promotion.
There can be a recreational section, a retail section of this pop-up, where people can buy, and all the money will go to paying the employees and paying the nominal fee [to cover trade-in patients]. I want to make it available for people to feel better. So that opiate addicts, the veterans that cannot get marijuana [under federal healthcare plans], that can only get opiates because of all the restrictions—give them a chance and create a trade. And get people off the street, get people feeling better, get ‘em off those edgey hard drugs. And, you know, the devastation of how alcohol leaves you depressed.
So that’s what I’m working on. We haven’t achieved it yet. I’d love to get that model here in Oregon, and then take it to L.A., Chicago, Miami, New Orleans—create a venue for people to get off opiates. Off of alcohol. Off of meth. Off of whatever. Off the street.
Original Post: Leafly: Interview With Jim Belushi: Cannabis Farmer and Rising Advocate
If you’ve ever had the experience of smoking a 14% THC flower and getting higher than something with twice its cannabinoid concentration, you’ve experienced the power of the entourage effect and cannabis terpenes.
Terpenes are the aromatic compounds responsible for the diverse scents and flavors expressed in cannabis. But terpenes do a lot more than smell awesome—they also shape the unique effects of cannabis strains by interfacing with the human body in some very interesting ways.
As consumers gain education about the plant and learn how to shop the science rather than the numbers and names, the market will demand a higher level of transparency as to what exactly is in those flowers at the local shop.
Let’s take a look at some cultivars rich in several primary and secondary terpenes—all of which are staples to dispensaries Oregon-wide—as well as some examples of outliers and anomalies that illustrate a few important lessons about terp expression.
Dutch Treat: Terpinolene
Dutch Treat by Liontree Farms (Matt Stangel for Leafly)
Grown by: Liontree Farms
Dominant terpenes: Terpinolene (2.6%); myrcene (1.5%)
Whenever a flower smells like bubblegum, cotton candy, or just about any confection bearing an artificial pink color, I know which terpene is dominant before even glancing at a lab report: terpinolene, the mood-enhancing aromatic compound that’s hallmark to strains like Durban Poison, Ghost Train Haze, and Lemon Meringue. Those, as well as Liontree Farm’s Dutch Treat.
As grown by Liontree on the sungrown operation’s south-facing slope—in a manner embraced by winemakers for upwards of a century—the Dutch Treat possesses an aromatic potency that’s more akin to extracts and concentrates than flower: 2.6% terpinolene, 1.5% myrcene, as well as a full point of ocimene; plus others, adding up to 6.1% total terpenes.
Of course, Liontree is believed to hold the state’s record for highest terpene concentration with their 11.2% Lemon Head that contained a full 8 points of myrcene. These guys are absolutely the sungrown terp leaders that you need to watch out for, and their Dutch Treat is your terpinolene fix to the max.
Kurple Fantasy: Limonene
Kurple Fantasy grown by Deschutes Growery (Matt Stangel for Leafly)
Grown by: Deschutes Growery
Dominant terpenes: Limonene (0.75%)
While mood-enhancing limonene is identifiable in countless citrus-forward strains, it contributes to a host of tart and sour aromas in cannabis, many of which don’t smell like citrus in the traditional sense. Deschutes’ Kurple Fantasy possesses such a limonene-dominant-but-not-fruity aroma.
In this cross of OG Kush and Old Man Purps, a limonene primary comes together with secondary concentrations of linalool and caryophyllene for a classic Purps facade. Significant concentrations of pinene, endo-fenchyl alcohol, and humulene add competing noise, highlighting the linalool and caryophyllene while downplaying the limonene. The result is more twigs than berries: the scent taking a turn toward a woody fuel and spicy lavender, and away from its citrus numbers—a classic example of how dominant terpenes can be overpowered by their supporting entourage.
OGKB by Gnome Grown (Matt Stangel for Leafly)
Grown by: Gnome Grown
Dominant terpenes: Beta-caryophyllene (1.4%)
Whenever I detect a strong, black-pepper scent in a sample, I know to suspect beta-caryophyllene as the most likely source of the tickle in my nose. As described above, beta-caryophyllene is starting to be understood as a dietary cannabinoid: it’s found in a lot of everyday foods and it interfaces with the mammalian endocannabinoid system in a manner similar to CBD—via the CB2 receptors located throughout the body.
Beta-caryophyllene is the primary scent molecule in Gnome Grown Organics’ OGKB—not surprising, given the OGKB’s Kush-family lineage and the terpenoid fingerprint common to those cultivars: often composed of near-equal caryophyllene and limonene spikes, achieving the hybridized combination of mood enhancement and pain relief characteristics that many people seek from this heavily developed branch of the cannabis genome.
RudeBoi OG: Myrcene
RudeBoi OG grown by Evan’s Creek Farms (Matt Stangel for Leafly)
Grown by: Evan’s Creek Farms
Dominant terpenes: Myrcene (0.5%); limonene (0.3%)
While I’ve come across many examples of the RudeBoi OG, Evan’s Creek Farms’ version is the only I’ve seen with a leading concentration of myrcene, a terpene known for its mood-enhancing effects but also its sleepy, sedating finish. It’s also thought to lower the human body’s blood-brain barrier for THC—which means more cannabinoids can find their way to their receptors, increasing uptake efficiency.
Experientially, myrcene acts like a psychoactive multiplier—often to belie lower THC concentrations where perceived potency is concerned. Which is absolutely the case with the 15%-THC RudeBoi OG from Evan’s Creek, where myrcene teams up with linalool and OG-lineage concentrations of caryophyllene and limonene. The complete package far exceeds average consumer expectations for a flower with a cannabinoid content in the teens: a strong, upbeat head change and prominent calming characteristics—thanks in part to the added potency for which myrcene accommodates.
Ghost Cookies: Linalool
Grown by Deschutes Growery (Matt Stangel for Leafly)
Grown by: Deschutes Growery
Dominant terpenes: Limonene (0.6%); linalool (0.4%)
Linalool—the primary scent molecule associated with lavender that’s been observed to contribute to euphoric sedation when paired with THC—is extremely common to the cannabis plant, yet it’s rare to see it take the lead as the primary terpene. Ghost Cookies is no exception: here, linalool is the second most concentrated terpene after limonene.
But you wouldn’t know it, as the cool, perfume-quality lavender persists from nose to burn, joining wood and earth elements with little to no olfactory evidence of the citrus base. Potent to the nose, linalool has a way of overpowering its bedfellows. Yet, if you’re a purist and want a true linalool-dominant strain, we recommend checking out the Chocolate Mint OG from Truly Oreganics—a cultivar that from time to time expresses a linalool primary and always excels as a deeply satisfying and drowsy bedtime bowl.
Zkittlez: Geranyl Acetate
Zkittlez grown by Pistil Point (Matt Stangel for Leafly)
Grown by: Pistil Point
Dominant terpenes: Geranyl acetate (1.4%); beta-caryophyllene (0.9%)
The Zkittlez from Pistil Point lends itself to an observation I’d like to share early on: as breeders refine, create, and simply accident upon new and improved cannabis genetics, terpenes once believed rare to the plant are showing up with increasing frequency and potency.
Known for its rosy, fruit-forward scent and not much else, the under-researched geranyl acetate is one such terp—accounting for nearly 1.4% of this particular Zkittlez’ total mass and taking the lead alongside noteworthy concentrations of beta-caryophyllene, limonene, linalool, and humulene.
In the past, I’ve compared this flower’s overall aroma and flavor to herbs and ingredients common to Vietnamese pho soup—lime and Thai basil, in particular—with exotic, sour rose-petal tones and spicy, ginger flare-ups. It’s delicious, speaking modestly. And it neatly illustrates the continuous evolution of the scents and flavors to be found in cannabis.
Gelato #33: Nerolidol
Gelato #33 grown by Nelson and Co. Organics (Matt Stangel for Leafly)
Grown by: Nelson & Co. Organics
Dominant terpenes: Nerolidol (0.6%); limonene (0.5%)
While limonene is technically the dominant terpene observed in Nelson and Co.’s Gelato 33, when you consider all nerolidol isomers (cis-, beta-, and trans-) as a whole, this sedating family of terpenes takes the lead.
More to the point, the growers at Nelson and Co. see this uncommonly high nerolidol concentration across multiple strains that aren’t necessarily known for the trait—a trait that shows up batch after batch after batch. Speculating as to the cause, the growers say that nutrition is the most likely common factor—a light, seabird tea, applied conservatively.
Given that many commercial farms use a standardized nutrition plan across the entirety of a grow, it goes to follow that if you like one flower from a particular farm, there’s a good chance you’ll be equally well-served by another genetically similar cultivar from the same producer. That’s the case with Nelson and Co.: the organic indoor producer’s Gelato, Dogwalker, and Scott’s OG all test high in nerolidol, making it easy to find a reliable high.
Original Post: Leafly: Oregon’s Craft Cannabis Strains, by the Terpene
A classic cannabis strain grown just right is something to behold. Like “Starry Nights” or spaghetti and meatballs, heritage flowers might not be new to you by name, but when you open yourself up to their finer points, the rewards can surpass all expectation.
This requires a great deal of know-how and practice: careful nutrient regimens, a tailored environment, and harvest-through-cure nuances all come into play. Moreover, every craft grower has a unique vision of what a particular strain should be. Yet, for each producer who approaches the task like an artist, there’s a money-first operation that prioritizes yield above quality, giving so many excellent genetic staples a bad reputation.
That’s why we put an ear to Oregon and found a few growers who are handling the classics with a level of care and strain-specific detail that results in weed for the ages.
Welcome to the first edition of Meanwhile, the Flowers in Oregon, your seasonal cannabis digest that keeps you up-to-date on the most excellent cannabis available in the great Beaver State.
(Matt Stangel and Elysse Feigenblatt/Leafly)
Related Strains: Brandywine, Afghan Kush
Why You’ll Love It: Aromas of wood and burnt rubber intermingle with basil, tomato leaf, and ground pepper, tapering finally into a complex flavor of mint leaves, coffee, and caramel apple. Mood enhancement accompanies its anti-inflammatory benefits alongside mid-level sedation.
Activity Pairings: Movie nights, eBay window shopping, and Ancient Aliens.
Check These Menus for It:
Chemdawg by Nelson & Co. Organics
(Matt Stangel and Elysse Feigenblatt/Leafly)
Related Strains: Sour Diesel, OG Kush, GSC
Why You’ll Love It: Diesel and incense hide citrus flavors that are exposed by the flame, alongside a musky, nutty sweetness. A potent, upbeat, and lucid headspace is tamed by significant body rejuvenation and pain management characteristics. In modest doses, it could even be described as productive when paired with a cup of coffee.
Activity Pairings: Treadmill workouts, creative landscaping, tidying the house for company, and improving Mondays.
Check These Menus for It:
(Matt Stangel and Elysse Feigenblatt/Leafly)
Related Strains: Golden Pineapple, Black Widow, Jack Herer
Why You’ll Love It: Creamy notes of bubblegum, banana, and a tropical fruit that isn’t exactly pineapple are complicated by a distant tickle of spice and portobello. The candied pool-water finish forecasts a euphoric calm and lush, daydreamy head—creative, conversational and highly divergent.
Activity Pairings: Suntanning, watching the world go by from a train window, reading a breezy summer paperback, and falling asleep in a hammock at a music festival.
Check These Menus for It:
Original Post: Leafly: Meanwhile, the Flowers in Oregon: Cannabis Picks for Summer 2018