A group of nuns in California are raking in over $1,000,000 a year after turning a convent into an international cannabis operation.
The Sisters of the Valley in California’s Merced County are not Catholic nuns. They are a group of self-professed “nuns” who observe no religion whatsoever.
The Beguine revivalists did not believe in spreading any type of religious dogma, and the Sisters adhere closely to this tenet.
The Sisters think that cannabis is “truly God’s gift.” The products they create, however, are not going to get you high. Each item lovingly and carefully manufactured by the Sisters is rich in the healing cannabinoids (CBD) of marijuana. Their items do not contain THC, the chemical compound that makes you high.
The Sisters of the Valley recognize the healing power of cannabis and it is that power that they want to share with the world.
While you won’t find special strains of Mary Jane or stocks of weed edibles in the Sisters’ inventory, you will find a variety of cannabis-infused products designed to help you heal. They sell salves and tinctures, all organic and free of pesticides. Products are tested in a lab and rigorous quality control standards are set for every item.
In other words, they’re not just a bunch of stoners cooking up weed lotions in a crock pot. Their’s are tried and tested health products that aim to alleviate pain and suffering.
The Sisters are having a bumper crop. Since they started selling products in January 2015, their sales have increased exponentially. In 2016 alone, Sister Kate estimates that they did about $750,000 in sales. They recognize, however, that the current presidential administration is far from pot-friendly and could impact their business. They’re worried about the future.
The concern about the business being shut down by the anti-marijuana Trump Administration has led Sister Kate to set her eyes on Canada. “The thing Trump has done for us is put a fire under our butts to get launched in another country,” she said. “Our response to Trump is Canada.”
Sister Kate has plans to start a Canadian operation in the next few months. While they already sell online to Canadian customers, having a Canadian-based location would help diversify their interests and further spread the cannabis love.
The Sisters call themselves “New Age, anarchist, activist nuns.” And as such, they aren’t interested in perpetuating the myths and stereotypes that Catholicism has long heaped upon women. In fact, their goal is just the opposite of that. They want their community to empower and free women.
“A sister becomes a sister through a commercial relationship and earning a wage or a commission and we want to grow this way because we want to free the women,” said Sister Kate. “We don’t want to make them more dependent.”
Sister Kate may have never been an official Catholic nun but that hasn’t stopped her from dressing like one. She first started dressing as a nun during the Occupy Movement, adopting the moniker Sister Occupy. Born Christine Meeusen, Sister Kate was long fascinated by nuns.
The first time she wore a habit to an Occupy protest it was nothing more than an old Halloween costume. Now, it’s her calling.
Obviously, as nuns who smoke weed and produce marijuana-infused products, the Sisters of the Valley are already bucking tradition. They’re also redefining what it means to be part of a spiritual order. For example, these women are not required to take a vow of celibacy upon joining because their sex lives are their own business. The women do take other vows, though. According to Sister Kate:
“We take a vow of obedience to the moon cycles, we take a vow of chastity (which we don’t think requires celibacy), and a vow of ecology, which is a vow to do no harm while you’re making the medicine.”
When the Sisters first started attracting media attention, it was widely reported that they worshipped the “Holy Trinity” of cannabis. But this is simply not true because, as Sister Kate points out, “How can one thing be a trinity?” Since the metaphor has stuck and the Sisters are constantly asked about it, Sister Kate decided to adopt a sort of trinity for her order, saying:
“Because so many people have said that the cannabis plant is our holy trinity, I actually, in the last couple of days, came up with a cannabis plant holy trinity analogy. That is, that the plant is compassionate, it is cooperative, and it is intelligent.”
Despite the good work that the Sisters are doing, they are not universally well-liked and their work is not widely appreciated. It also doesn’t help that many laws pertaining to marijuana and marijuana regulation fall into a legal gray area. This has created an atmosphere of persecution that can be hard to shake. The Sisters’ Etsy shop was shut down and their town, Merced, California, has created roadblocks for medical marijuana cardholders to grow their own weed.
The Sisters also recognize that Jeff Sessions might have even more opposition to cannabis cultivation in the future.
While you won’t find any genuflecting or self-flagellation among the Sisters of the Valley, you will find that they are in touch with the spiritual side of the work they’re doing. They operate their business according to the cycles of the moon and they say a little healing prayer with each bottle of product they create. Sister Kate explained“
“We make our medicine new moon to full moon, and we work every day in our habits and those are the days we do prayer ceremonies and focus on the medicine. As soon as we’re through a full moon, we’re in a relaxation state for two weeks. It’s during that time that we are more relaxed and more likely to be out and about,”
Early in 2017, Aubrey Plaza released a movie called The Little Hours, in which she played a nun. As part of the promotional tour for the film, she met up with the Sisters and they smoked together. They also discussed spiritual matters. The Sisters gave Plaza a lesson in marijuana cultivation and shared stories about their lives.
Though they get noticeably more bleary-eyed throughout, the video gives a revealing look into the life of a Valley nun.