With financial backing from Chicago publishing royalty and an Illinois partnership with Grassroots Cannabis (now CuraLeaf), Wheaton native, actor and cannabis enthusiast Jim Belushi today is scheduled to begin merchandising Blues Brothers-branded bud at the opening of the Greenhouse Dispensary in Skokie.

The plan is for Belushi to arrive in the famous “Blues Mobile” from the 1980 movie that starred his late brother John and Dan Aykroyd. The stoney architecture of the Greenhouse location across from Old Orchard brings to mind the Edens Expressway movie theaters where many local cannabis consumers were first introduced to Jake and Elwood on the big screen. 

While Belushi may not necessarily be on a mission from God, the longtime film, screen and stage actor can get pretty spiritual when it comes to his feelings about cannabis and its healing and commercial properties. 

Talking to Grown In, Belushi speaks passionately and frequently about using cannabis to sleep more easily, handle stressful situations and serve as a replacement for booze and over-the-counter pharmaceutical remedies. The brother of a cultural icon who overdosed on “hard drugs”, Belushi believes reorienting societal attitudes toward pot could save lives and make the world a better and more forgiving place to live. 

With investors including Playboy Magazine scion Christie Hefner, Belushi three years ago started a cannabis company in Oregon that cultivates and sells branded cannabis products throughout the state. Concurrently Belushi is starring in the Discovery Channel’s Growing Belushi television series, which chronicles his life in the commercial weed trade and love of micro-dosing. It’s also a great commercial for the company, which today expands to Illinois. 

Belushi credits Grassroots Cannabis founder and now Curaleaf board director Mitch Kahn for helping him see the light in his home state.

“I just fell in love with the dude,” he said. “He really spoke my language and understood the heart of what I believe to be in this plant.”

Chicago-based Grassroots, which operates cannabis cultivation, retail and processing facilities in multiple states, in July was officially acquired by Massachusetts-based CuraLeaf for a combination of stock and cash believed to be more than $800 million. Kahn said that CuraLeaf would track the number of proverbial briefcases full of bud sold before deciding on additional Illinois distribution options. Another Greenhouse Dispensary in Northbrook is anticipated to open shortly. 

“This is not a celebrity thing for him,” said Kahn, an investor in many plant-touching and ancillary cannabis businesses. “He owns a farm. His hands are in the dirt. He’s a terrific guy. But, more importantly for us, he’s authentic.”

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Brad Spirrison is a journalist, serial entrepreneur and media ecologist. He lives in Chicago with his son. Interests include music, meditation and Miles Davis.