AKWESASNE — Actor and comedian Jim A. Belushi made a special appearance Thursday for a grand-opening ribbon-cutting ceremony for the first cannabis dispensary to carry his name, and it’s located in Akwesasne.
Belushi’s Farm opened a dispensary on the St. Regis Mohawk Tribe’s land, and Belushi was there along with dozens of fans and cannabis supporters, everyone full of excitement over the famous headliner there to celebrate the shop’s inaugural day.
Although this is the first dispensary carrying the Belushi name, his cannabis products are currently available in Oregon, Colorado, Oklahoma, Illinois and Massachusetts.
“This is my first location with my name on it,” Mr. Belushi told the Telegram prior to the ceremony.
When asked why he chose this location, he quickly replied, “Why not? We’re very excited to be here and to have a dispensary with Belushi’s Farm on it.”
A film and production crew was on hand as the opening will air on the Discovery Channel’s “Growing Belushi,” a television show in its third season focusing on his exploits as a legal cannabis farmer. He owns 93 acres in Oregon where he grows several types of cannabis. The episode that includes the filming in Akwesasne is slated to air sometime in February, according to a member of the production team, and everyone at the opening was asked to sign a waiver.
“The TV show is a documentary-style show on the world of cannabis, probably the most real representation as to what cannabis is right now,” Mr. Belushi said.
In an interview on the Discovery Channel’s website, Mr. Belushi was asked what he wants audiences to get out of the show.
“An understanding of the safety and wellness aspects of cannabis, which helps with Alzheimer’s, seizures, headaches, psychological disorders, PTSD, chronic pain, cancer, Parkinson’s, backaches, and headaches,” he said. “It also stimulates creativity, enhances the sounds of music and the tastes of food and the touch of your lover’s skin. It brings a feeling of joyfulness, euphoria, generosity of spirit, and kindness.”
Located at 987 Route 37 in Akwesasne, Belushi’s Farm is the latest tribally licensed cannabis dispensary to open under the jurisdiction of the St. Regis Mohawk Tribe, according to a news release from the tribe.
“The tribal fees collected from their retail sale of high-quality cannabis products will help support community programs and services,” it reads.
How it started
It took about a year to bring Belushi’s Farm to Akwesasne, and the project really got off the ground after correspondence between Belushi’s operation and Zachary Oakes, the owner of the new franchise.
“The first time we had heard about the Mohawk Tribe area was about a year ago and the ball started rolling. It quickly moved along and the process began in earnest about nine months ago,” Mr. Belushi said. “It started with a discussion on design, what we’re going to grow, what the cultivation looked like here on the reservation, who the grower was, what strains we’re going to use, the nutrients we would use, the lighting system, We’re really particular on the great health, the cleanliness of growing our cannabis.”
Mr. Belushi said the gentleman who now owns the franchise shop is a perfect fit for the location.
“He’s right in line with us, so we thought it was a match as far as cultivation is concerned,” he said, adding that then the discussion moved ahead with the talk of opening a dispensary. “We talked about calling it Belushi’s Farm, and it’s just been a joyful exchange.”
Mr. Oakes said the overall process happened fast, and he was surprised at the turnout and excitement at the ribbon-cutting event.
“We just exchanged a few emails, and one thing led to another and next thing you know, we’re in business together,” Mr. Oakes said. “I mean, I didn’t think it would be this big, but it’s pretty huge already. I’m very excited. This level of excitement is through the roof! I hope to see it keep rising. I want to keep the buzz going and keep things like this happening.”
Opportunity and healing
The opening of a dispensary on the land of the St. Regis Mohawk Tribe is not new, as many have opened since the first tribally licensed one opened earlier this year, but Belushi’s Farm is the first of such a high level of notoriety — a fact not lost on the tribe’s leadership.
“I think that this is a tremendous opportunity, not only for the proprietors, but for the community of Akwesasne, that I anticipate will generate increased traffic and customers looking for high quality cannabis products,” said Brendan F. White, director of communications for the tribe. “I think it goes without saying that the partnership that Zachary and his associates have formed with Jim Belushi and his franchise certainly helps to set it apart from other dispensaries that we see open in Akwesasne today.”
“I hope that the notoriety of Belushi’s Farm will help to generate more customers from throughout the north country and certainly from the Canadian area,” he added.
Mr. Belushi said his appreciation for cultivating cannabis is deep-rooted and is not something he takes lightly, and he said he got involved in the business chiefly for its healing qualities.
“I had a farm and cannabis was legal, so I thought that was a great new agriculture, and I started growing. This plant has slowly taken me into the depth of growing cannabis, manufacturing products, and mainly it’s taken me into the healing benefits and the medical benefits surrounding cannabis, the pathway to healing that cannabis offers,” he said.
Mr. Belushi could not say whether opening this dispensary will lead to more locations or any type of expansion. He even cited a famous line from the movie “The Blues Brothers,” which starred his brother John, who died in 1982.
“I kind of just roll with it,” he said. “Whatever comes my way, we discuss it. If everybody is aligned with our ‘Mission from God,’ and that is the healing process that cannabis is, the knowledge and the destigmatizing of cannabis, that’s my main purpose.”
Although this is Mr. Belushi’s first visit to the area, he said he plans on returning — and the people who live here have been welcoming and friendly.
“I’ve been in Montreal, I shot a movie there, and of course Danny Aykroyd lives outside of Kingston (Canada), so I’ve been in the northern area, but this is all new to me. I can really tell about an area by the interactions I have with the people,” he said. “And everyone has been just lovely, and with great spirit. I’m looking forward to getting to know the community better.”
“I plan to travel quite a bit for the good cause of cannabis, and this is one of the good causes right here, Belushi’s Farm Dispensary,” he added.
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