Blues Brothers weed strain — de­vel­oped by Jim Belushi — to go on sale at mas­sive new sub­ur­ban pot shop

Chicago Sun-Times - - TOP NEWS - BY TOM SCHUBA, STAFF RE­PORTER tschuba@sun­times.com | @TomSchuba

Blues Brothers John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd made cine­matic his­tory when they tore through Harvey’s Dixie Square Mall in a Dodge Monaco po­lice cruiser.

Fast for­ward 40 years and Jim Belushi, the late Blues Brother’s brother, now plans to drive a replica of the famed Blues­mo­bile to

Thurs­day’s open­ing of a mas­sive pot shop across the street from an­other sub­ur­ban mall.

The “Ac­cord­ing to Jim” star, who has been grow­ing cannabis at his Ore­gon farm for around five years, has part­nered with Grass­roots Cannabis to ex­clu­sively sell a Blues Brothers weed strain at the new dis­pen­sary, lo­cated in an old bank steps from the Old Or­chard shop­ping cen­ter in Skokie. Though he plans to pull up to the shop and hand de­liver the bud, don’t ex­pect any high-speed the­atrics.

“What I wanted to do is drive through the Old Or­chard mall, like they did in ‘The Blues Brothers,’ but I think that got a lit­tle too costly,” a laugh­ing Jim Belushi said in an in­ter­view with the Sun-Times on Wed­nes­day.

He noted that Aykroyd was plan­ning to travel to the Chicago area for the open­ing, but coro­n­avirus-re­lated travel re­stric­tions would have com­pli­cated a trip from his na­tive Canada. Still, Aykroyd of­fered his bless­ing dur­ing a con­ver­sa­tion Jim Belushi re­counted.

“Jimmy, I know you can drive it,” Jim Belushi said, do­ing a spo­ton im­per­son­ation of the orig­i­nal “Satur­day Night Live” cast­mate. “You’re an Illi­nois al­pha male, you know how to drive a po­lice car.”

Jim Belushi, who grew up in the western sub­urbs, said he started smok­ing weed while at­tend­ing Wheaton Cen­tral High School. Taken by the plant’s heal­ing and medic­i­nal ef­fects, and the fact that it sim­ply “makes you feel good,” he now prefers to “mi­cro dose” cannabis as a sleep aid and to man­age anx­i­ety.

In re­cent years, Jim Belushi broke into the pot in­dus­try when he started cul­ti­vat­ing weed at his name­sake farm in Ea­gle Point, Ore­gon, a process that’s been doc­u­mented in the Dis­cov­ery Chan­nel show “Grow­ing Belushi.”

Grow­ing weed is deeply per­sonal for Jim Belushi, who also refers to the new Blues Brothers va­ri­etal as the “mar­riage coun­selor” af­ter find­ing it im­proved his re­la­tion­ship with his wife.

“If you take one lit­tle hit, and your wife didn’t even know you did, all of a sud­den ev­ery­thing she says is beau­ti­ful,” he noted.

The in­dica strain, a cross be­tween Bubba Kush and Tri­an­gle Kush grown at Grass­roots’ cul­ti­va­tion cen­ter in far down­state Litch­field, was touted by Jim Belushi for its high level of THC, the mind-al­ter­ing com­pound found in weed. Ul­ti­mately, he plans to ex­pand his Grass­roots brand to in­clude other strains he’s grown at his farm, like Cherry Pie.

Jim Belushi said his de­ci­sion to team with Chicago-based Grass­roots was sealed in a hand­shake deal with the com­pany’s CEO, Mitchell Kahn, who he met over a year ago. Lisa Hur­witz, Grass­roots’ chief mar­ket­ing and in­no­va­tion of­fi­cer, said it “was a nat­u­ral de­ci­sion” for the Chicago-based com­pany to part­ner with a fig­ure who “works tire­lessly to change the way peo­ple see cannabis.”

“We’re proud to bring Blues Brothers back where they be­long: sweet home, Chicago,” Hur­witz said in a state­ment.

The Skokie dis­pen­sary is part of Grass­roots’ ef­forts to in­crease its foot­print in Illi­nois af­ter be­ing ac­quired in July by Mas­sachusetts­based Cu­raleaf in a block­buster $875 mil­lion deal.

Grass­roots, which also has oper­a­tions in four other states, cur­rently runs the Litch­field grow fa­cil­ity and four Illi­nois dis­pen­saries. The com­pany is also build­ing an­other gi­ant dis­pen­sary in north sub­ur­ban North­brook.

With sales of le­gal weed boom­ing nine months af­ter the drug was fully le­gal­ized in Illi­nois, Grass­roots and other lo­cal pot firms fight­ing for mar­ket share have be­gun rolling out brand part­ner­ships and open­ing colos­sal cannabis dis­pen­saries.

New York-based As­cend Well­ness has started sell­ing pot prod­ucts from Cook­ies En­ter­prises, the vaunted Cal­i­for­nia cannabis com­pany owned by the rap­per Berner.

And Cresco Labs, an­other Chicago-based firm, opened an enor­mous pot store last month next to the Wood­field Mall in Schaum­burg.

The in­te­rior of Grass­roots’ 15,000-square-foot Green­house dis­pen­sary in Skokie — the com­pany’s first Illi­nois store to sell only recre­ational weed — looks more like the of­fices of a ma­jor tech firm than a weed store. The shop will be equipped with enough point-of-sale sys­tems to serve a dozen cus­tomers at once.

“As our largest dis­pen­sary to date, this flag­ship lo­ca­tion fur­ther ex­pands our pres­ence in Illi­nois,” Kahn, the com­pany’s chief ex­ec­u­tive, said in a state­ment.

On Thurs­day af­ter­noon, Skokie Mayor Ge­orge Van Dusen will join Belushi and com­pany leaders fol­low­ing a rib­bon-cut­ting cer­e­mony.

Jim Belushi smells cannabis grow­ing at his Ore­gon farm. IN­STA­GRAM

Grass­roots Cannabis will be­gin sell­ing a Blues Brothers weed strain at the com­pany’s new Skokie dis­pen­sary, which opens Thurs­day. PRO­VIDED

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