“I’m an actor, I’m a singer, I’m a dancer, and now, I’m a farmer!”
Growing Belushi premiered this week on Discovery, with the new reality giving an inside peek into the actor’s new venture of growing cannabis on his farm in Medford, Oregon.
Sometimes cringeworthy, sometimes sentimental and often hilarious, the show is a refreshing change when it comes to cannabis and mainstream media. The opening episode introduces Belushi and his motley collection of staff, friends, and family, as he runs the farm and tries to stand out in the crowded world of cannabis production and sales. Belush’s army of hired help ranges from stereotypically spoiled slacker kids to serious cannabis production workers who make the farm operate correctly, to an over-anxious, caffeine-guzzling, chain-smoking farm manager who does his best to run the business side of the operation. Legendary grower “Captain Jack”, is the team’s jewel, and he lends his name and strain to Belushi’s farm. Set apart from the regular six strains being grown at the farm (which are the tasty sounding Nilla Wafer, Lemon Chiffon, Cherry Pie, Bubblemint, Black D.O.G. OG, and Chocolate Hashberry), the Captain Jack strain is the pride and joy of Belushi Farms. The storied Captain Jack strain is referred to as “The smell of SNL”, due to its popularity around the cast and crew of Saturday Night Live in the 1970s when Jim’s late brother, John Belushi, was at the height of his comedic career.
John Belushi starred in SNL and movies such as Animal House and Blues Brothers with Dan Aykroyd, who also appears in Growing Belushi. Jim Belushi himself has a long comedic past, starring in ABC’s According to Jim and later teaming up with Dan Aykroyd to perform in a modern version of The Blues Brothers.
Growing Belushi can be quite fun and charming, with strong personalities vying for space around the farm and light drama around problems with growing the cannabis, the clashing of team personalities, and Jim’s kooky attempts to show leadership. The scripted nature of the reality series became a bit cringe-inducing at times, particularly in an awkward scene where Jim’s family and friends hold an intervention for him running the cannabis farm, where Jim calls them back-stabbers, and only his daughter Jamie believes in his dream of running a successful cannabis farm. In addition, the show throws lingo around like “terpenes” and “entourage effect” without really explaining them or even having them be relevant to the conversation. But it does occasionally come through with a dose of information such as the use of neem oil, a natural insecticide, to protect the plants.
Growing Belushi can’t be taken too seriously though, as its aim is to bring a light-hearted peek for the uninitiated into the heart and soul of what it takes to own and operate a large scale cannabis production. The sense of fun comes mainly from Jim’s happiness with being around his beloved cannabis plants, playing the harmonica to them and enthusiastically insisting to his ever-so-patient team that they play the right music to the plants and the right time of day- Marvin Gaye from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. and funk music only ever after 11 a.m., never in the early morning!
Overall the series portrays cannabis in a fun, positive light that is rarely shown on mainstream TV. Belushi speaks highly of the value of cannabis and its positive health benefits for both physical ailments and mental health issues such as PTSD. He even goes so far as to speculate that if it had known in the 70’s what is now known about the medical benefits of cannabis, his brother John might still be alive today.
John was a middle linebacker who had suffered brain injuries, and Jim believes that it led to him self-medicating with alcohol and drugs which eventually caused his tragically early death at the age of 33. The show occasionally throws out a nugget of important truth, such as opiate use levels dropping across counties where the use of marijuana has been legalized. In a time where cannabis has been legalized across Canada and in many states in the US, breaking stigmas and combating stereotypes and myths about the plant on a mainstream series is a refreshing change. Coming up in the season there will be more Dan Aykroyd and Blues Brothers, a trip to Columbia, and a harvest party with a visit from the police, promising more silliness, more entertainment, and more love for the humble cannabis plant.
This piece was written by a Lethbridge, AB, member of the Canadian Evergreen community