Ron Galella/Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images; Bruce Bennett/Getty Images John Belushi; Jim Belushi
Jim Belushi is on a mission to de-stigmatize medical marijuana in his new Discover series, Growing Belushi.
In the new reality series, which premiered on Wednesday, the 66-year-old actor takes viewers inside the legal cannabis business he runs from his 93-acre Oregon farm with his family.
"I just thought that this was something that nobody’s ever seen,” Jim told Fox News in a new interview. "I think there are people that are very frightened about cannabis and its attributes and I thought, ‘You know what? If everybody just sees how it’s grown, sees the people that are involved, that really care… the testing that’s involved, the safety involved, they may feel a little more relaxed about trying cannabis."
Jim, who has long been an advocate for cannabis, said that his interest in medical marijuana stems from a personal tragedy: his brother, Saturday Night Live star John Belushi, died in 1982 at age 33 from a drug overdose.
"My brother, I think, suffered from CTE,” Jim explained, adding that John had brain damage after years of playing football growing up.
"Senior year he seizured in our home, and we didn’t know what it was,” Jim recalled.
Donato Sardella/Getty Images Jim Belushi
The According to Jim star said that in an attempt to treat his injuries, John discovered weed and "cannabis became medicine for him," despite it being illegal at the time.
"It was all considered one drug," Jim said.
As he continued to experiment with drugs, John eventually turned to cocaine, which led to his death.
Now nearly 40 years since John's passing, Jim believes that medical marijuana was the key to his brother's chances of survival. "I believe what Dan Aykroyd says: ‘If John was a pothead he’d be alive today,' " he said.
"And we think the medicine could have really helped him with that CTE, that suffering," the actor added. "That’s one of my purposes.”
As Jim continues to advocate for medical marijuana use, he's realized he can help change other people's lives. During a recent visit to a dispensary in Western Oregon, the actor encountered a veteran who thanked him for helping him deal with his PTSD from Iraq.
"He said, ‘Your Black Diamond is the only thing that relaxes me enough to take away the terror in my heart and talk to my family and sleep,’” Jim recalled. “He hugged me with tears, and I said, ‘I didn't make this.’ He goes, ‘No, but you’re the steward.’ "
"We all have trauma that’s… screaming inside," the actor said. "All I’m saying is from my experience with veterans especially is that cannabis is safe, clean and peaceful … That veteran changed my life.”
Growing Belushi airs Wednesdays (10 p.m. ET) on Discovery.