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 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 spot-on impersonation of the original Saturday Night Live cast mate. “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 Massachusetts-based 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.