Justice

These Nuns Are Growing Marijuana for the Best Reason

For the last year, Sister Kate and Sister Darcey have been growing cannabis and using the plant's non-psychoactive ingredients to produce body salves and tonics for patients around the world. While the sisters aren't really part of any religious order, spirituality does play an important role in the California-based business.

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But now their start-up, the Sisters of the Valley, is facing pressure from city officials in Merced, California. The city council is set to vote on a proposed ban on cannabis businesses in Merced on Monday.

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As an activist, Sister Kate said she assumed the role of a nun in 2011 after Congress deemed pizza a vegetable in an effort to undermine the Obama administration's push for healthy school lunches. It was supposed to be somewhat satirical, but when people began to reach out to her, she decided to make it a permanent part of her activism, extending it to her cannabis business years later.

"I was raised in a Catholic school with Catholic nuns," Sister Kate told ATTN:. "The nuns represented something to everyone in the world. They represented order, cleanliness, a spiritual work environment."

At first, the nuns worked with medical marijuana dispensaries in the state, but found the process slow and unrewarding. Not many clinics seemed particularly interested in the product's medical value, and so they decided to refocus the business on CBD, a component of cannabis that treats a range of health issues but does not get users high.

"We didn’t want to found a religion, we didn’t want to hide under cover of a nonprofit, we just wanted a sustainable business to sustain ourselves that was also a way of life — a way of life that counters the stoner culture with cannabis," Sister Kate told ATTN:.

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"The way to counteract the stoner culture was to give extreme reverence to the plant," she said.

"Our medicines are made by moon cycles, according to ancient wisdom, and so we always make medicines from a new moon to a full moon, and in those two weeks a month, when we are focused on the medicine, all our prayer and all our spirituality and all our rituals go into the making of the medicine."

You can watch videos of their process on YouTube, where the sisters upload clips from their harvest and show exactly what kind of work goes into their high-CBD product line.


They also post their recipes online and sell the salves, tinctures, and oils on Etsy. The Sisters of the Valley bring in about $10,000 to $12,000 a month, Sister Kate said — up from around $1,000 a month when they first started last January.

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Part of the reason for the growth is because the company shifted to CBD medicines, which can be legally sold across state and country lines because they contain less than one percent THC, the main psychoactive ingredient of cannabis.

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"We look at this kind of like a grand human experiment and we’re inviting people in to participate with us," Sister Kate said. "So I think that that sets us apart from anyone else."