The gun-toting cannabis-growing nuns are in the business of helping people, but not in the way you’d think.
They call themselves the Sisters of the Valley and they grow and sell cannabis while always being watched by their unrelenting local authorities, and the threat of black market thieves.
It all started with Christine Meeusen, who now goes by the name Sister Kate. She went to a private Catholic school growing up, and the nun’s sisterhood inspired her. Little did she know she’d be the owner and operator of what are known as the Weed Nuns.
The first habit she wore in public was a leftover Halloween costume.
She would show up wearing the black robe and white habit during protests during the Occupy Wall Street movement. She soon grew a reputation and some began to call her Sister Occupy which rekindled her adoration for nuns.
They would come to her for advice, to pray, and for a safe haven as she represented a symbol of light in a dark time.
This was the beginning of her journey of non-denominational spirituality, servitude, and activism.
“The spirituality is for us,” says Sister Kate referring to the Sisters of the Valley and their mission, “and the servitude and activism are for the people.”
She goes on to explain that the servitude is in their medicine making, and their activism is to change the laws to make them more equitable for everyone.
Even though she doesn’t consider herself to be Catholic, she still calls herself a nun. While she protested the US Congress’ decision to declare pizza as a vegetable in her habit and robe, Meeusen shrugs, “If pizza was a vegetable, I was a nun.”
And even now, when some have argued that they’re not ‘real nuns’, she answers, “There are no nuns. They’re going extinct in this country.” She acknowledges that her order may not be a group of ‘real nuns’, but their mission is just as good of heart.
Currently, Sister Kate has eleven full-time employees. Her mission is to ‘create honorable jobs for women’ in alternative medicine-making, customer service, accounting, and business administration. However, it’s not as safe as it sounds. “This is the Wild West,” one Sister admits, “We’re not growing dandelions.”
The farm itself sits in right here in our agriculture-rich Central Valley, about 10 miles outside of Merced. However, while California may be known for its liberal reputation, Merced County beats to its own drum.
Because of its rural area, Merced and the surrounding areas attract a more conservative crowd. This means that she and her business are constantly under the microscope of her own neighbors, including local officials. “They’re watching us,” She reveals, “And I know if we would give them a reason, they would shut us down.”
But that’s not nearly the extent of her problems.
She also remarks, because of the black market value of her product, she’s also at risk of being robbed by ‘roving bandits’.
“Our profit has been eaten up by security,” Sister Kate explains, “Our plan is to have ‘round the clock security until we all feel safe: guns, gates, fences – but none of that thrills me.”
The farm also has an armed guard always on premises, and Sister Kate is also building a fence for a newly trained dog.
When she originally moved to California in 2009, Sister Kate started a medical cannabis collective with her brother called Caregrowers.
“The majority of the patients sent to us by doctors were very sick or very close to death,” she recalls. “It made me crazy that I had to teach these people how to smoke – so fearful, I was, that someone would torch themselves in bed.”
This is what inspired her to create a method of ingesting cannabis without smoking it.
This was around the same time that she got involved with the Occupy movement, and the rest was history.
Now, the Sisters of the Valley create and sell a line of hemp-derived salves, tinctures, and oils.
With their ‘high CBD, low THC’ product line, they aim to help people who are looking for natural healing remedies.
The Sisters prepare their products during moon cycles, inspired by ‘ancient wisdom’. Their website reads: “They are on a mission to empower people to heal themselves.”
Along with their cannabis line, they sell other products that compliment their healing offerings.
They also sell their own sage sticks, which they use themselves to cleanse the air, chase away ‘dark energies’, and for blessings.
They also offer Palo Santo – or Holy Wood – that is used in a similar way. It is used to clear energies, and calm your workspace or home.
Their ground-breaking documentary, Breaking Habits, should be available later this year.
What do you think about the Sisters of the Valley? You think this is a worthy and honorable cause? Or maybe just a little sacrilegious? Feel free to discuss in the comments section below.
See you next time at our shop! We may not be nuns, but we still want to help you.