John Belushi was Big. He was one of the original cast members of the US TV show Saturday Night Live, which continues to this day. A 2015 article in Rolling Stone decided he was the best one ever: “Nobody embodied the highs and lows of SNL like Belushi.” He starred in the major films National Lampoon’s Animal House and The Blue Brothers. He now has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. He died at the age of 33 in 1982 from an overdose of heroin and cocaine – termed a speedball – at the Chateau Marmont hotel in Los Angeles. The friend who gave him the drugs, Catherine Evelyn Smith, served 15 months in prison for manslaughter.

John Belushi. Photo: tonynetone

John Belushi. Photo: tonynetone

His brother, James, commented

John Belushi’s brother, James, has also appeared on SNL as well as other programmes. He boasts an extensive filmography of more than 60 pieces that includes Little Shop of Horrors. James remarked, “I really think … if he was a pothead, he’d be alive because it’s a great medicine.” He ascribed his brother’s sometimes outlandish behaviour to chronic traumatic encephalopathy: brain damage resulting from repeatedly bashing the head, in this case playing American football at high school, where he was the team captain. He had a seizure in his final year of school that left people bewildered. James holds that if the medical benefits of cannabis known today had been known back in the 1970s, John Belushi would have had a different treatment plan.

James mentioned the aphorism “When you drink the water, remember the men or women who dug the well.” He added, “John dug the well for me”: he’d be working at his dad’s restaurant if John hadn’t shown him there was an alternative.

James Belushi came out with these comments for the show Growing Belushi, which documents his life growing cannabis on the 93 acres of land he owns in Oregon, a state that permits recreational cannabis. It is now into its second season.

James’s advice about cannabis farming

When interviewed on NBC’s Late Night with Seth Meyers, James received the enquiry of what advice he would give to anyone contemplating cannabis farming. His response was: “Don’t do it.” The reasons were that people make it sound like a gold rush, but it’s nothing of the kind: “This is farming, Seth. I am a farmer, I am in the soil.” Farmers, he insisted, have tough lives, but, personally, he finds it to be “fun.”

And what about all the people arrested for cannabis-related crime?

James also mentioned his involvement with The Last Prisoner Project, which strives for the release of people imprisoned for cannabis-related crimes and assists them upon release. He described such people as “pioneers for the cannabis industry… the ones that took the arrows”. All they were doing, he groused, was “trying to make a living for their family.” Putting them in prison “collapses that family, creates more trauma.” And there are 40,000 of them, he noted.

James told that he doesn’t smoke cannabis, instead consuming edibles to help him get to sleep.

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