For many of us, smoking marijuana allows us to release the pressures of our stressful lives; both at home and at work. As the drug takes effect, the tension and strain seem to melt away leading to a sense of relaxation and calm. For a group of self-described weed nuns in California, who have taken their vows to a higher level, the aim is for all of us to float just a little closer to heaven.
Healing with CBD One Dose At a Time
The Sisters of the Valley, a group of self-proclaimed “weed nuns,” say they want to help heal and empower women through the widespread use of pot. They grow their own cannabis near the city of Merced, Calif.–and have reportedly made nearly a million dollars selling their product in the U.S. and Canada. They have no official relationship with the Catholic Church. Becoming a member of the sisterhood requires that members engage in the growing, marketing, and selling of their CBD-infused products.
Sold First in North America, Next Globally
With the Trump administration hawkish on the idea of prohibiting legal weed, the sisters credit the president and his Attorney General, Jeff Sessions, for inspiring them to launch globally.
These acts brought attention to social and economic inequality and corporate control over governments starting in 2011. She was then dubbed “Sister Occupy” by fellow protesters.
The sisters decided to pattern their movement after Beguine women, who existed in the 13th century. The women were independent, largely single, and are said to have pioneered plant-based medicine. They were also reported to have provided housing and jobs for the poor of the day.
The beguines were not associated with any one religion. They produced hemp products, made medicines, and were said to have been the first nurses in the castles throughout Europe. They held the belief that women should be allowed to own private property and own businesses if they so desired. So as modern-day beguine women, the Sisters of the Valley wants to promote their old style vision of caring and bettering the lives of the poor through plant-based medication.
The group produces rich CBD salves, lotions, and tinctures from hemp plants cultivated on their land. They admit that their product has very little or no THC; the ingredient that causes the psychoactive effect of marijuana. Yet the weed nuns report that their products are in such demand, they can hardly keep up.
In an effort to expand operationally, they have launched their own website. In the long term, the sisters hope to expand and offer their products wholesale, making them available in stores and marijuana dispensaries across the U.S. and beyond.
Growing Into a Marijuana Nunnery
They actually look the part as weed nuns in their white blouses, long denim skirts, and their habits, which are fashioned from old pillowcases. The seven members live in a California ranch house and grow their product on their land.
The group has used the popular retail site Etsy to move its products. Etsy specializes in peer-to-peer e-commerce. The weed nuns of California, however, were removed for allegedly violating the website’s drug policy in 2016. Today, the sisters move their products through their own website and ship orders through the post office.
They contend that their goods are legal for shipping across the country due to an obscure 2004 court ruling that removed hemp from DEA regulation. The jury appears to still be on this claim, however.
The Difference Comes From the Production Process
Under county law, cannabis growers are allowed to cultivate up to 12 hemp plants. The sisters converted their garage into a grow house and suggest that while their herb looks typical, their medicine producing process is quite different. Sister Kate says that they infuse their products with certain healing powers because they only manufacture their creations from the new moon until the full moon – or about 29 days.
For instance, on the cycle’s first day, the weed nuns hold a ceremony under the stars asking that their work efforts be blessed. They are said to give thanks to God and Mother Goddess for bringing them into the profession. Then a bundle of sage is waved over the crop which includes high proof alcohol to dissolve the herb. The weed nuns would reportedly then recite a number of incantations.
The Sisters of the Valley raked in about $60,000 in sales in their first year of operating, in 2015. Today, the website is generating more than that every month.
Cannabis, Health, and The Future of The Sisters of the Valley
The cannabis industry is saddled with a number of repressive laws and policies from the banking industry. They are considered to be high-risk enterprises. As a result, banks hold large amounts of their cash in abeyance for long periods of time. This has an impact on how rapidly they can expand. Add in the costs of security guards, trained dogs, and perimeter fencing and weed nuns can easily find their finances have become strained.
The venture is constantly under threat from both local and federal governments. For instance, in 2015 the county of Merced banned the cultivation of pot within the confines of the city limits – it was later overturned. The only saving grace for the sisters was that they were currently in the process of purchasing a distressed property in the county which absolved them from the law.
Despite the constant challenges, Sister Kate plans to expand with chapters of her organization, which she whimsically called “Abbeys.” Within the next five years, she’d like to expand operations from coast to coast.
The nuns adhere to vows of servitude, spirituality, and activism while harvesting their plants following the cycles of the moon. They are not a religious order but indicate that they owe their inspiration to ancient European feminism practices and some traditions borrow from Native American tribes.
According to Sister Kate, the moon cycles coincide with the rotations by which women live their lives. They follow this cycle by beginning a new cannabis grow on the new moon and harvesting it on the full moon.
The Abbey employs local workers from the community on a one-acre farm in the Central Valley of Northern California. The area is reportedly littered with drug addiction, crime, and unemployment.
During the full moon, the sisters hold a ceremony that is open to the public where a celebration feast is held along with fireside discussions.
The farm is not affiliated with any traditional religions. Sister Kate feels that organized religions are “picking the pockets” of poor people, they are all male run and operate on an antiquated class system. Since many articles are now being written about her, an increased number of people are expressing an interest in joining her movement.
As a mother of three, she admits to being surprised by the attention. Attempts to formalize her movement have caused a great deal of soul-searching about the future of the farm.
Sister Kate graduated from the University of Wisconsin with a degree in Business Education and worked for some time as an analyst for various companies up along the east coast. Today, she is the head of her own million dollar company in the marijuana industry in just the third year of operations.