Watering plants, trimming flowers, concocting healing ointments — it’s all in a day’s work for the Sisters of the Valley.
We know that cannabis is a female plant and perhaps this is the reason women seem to form an inexplicably deep bond with her. The legalization movement has empowered countless female entrepreneurs — women hold 36% of executive positions in the cannabis industry compared to the U.S. Business average of 22%.
One of the many women-powered businesses that have blossomed out of cannabis legalization is Sisters of the Valley, located in Merced, California in the heart of the West Coast’s fertile farmlands.
Seven devoted women make up the Sisters of the Valley, each one exceedingly passionate about the healing properties of cannabis. Their mission is to eradicate the negative stigma surrounding cannabis and create jobs for women who are equally passionate about the plant’s healing abilities. They cultivate strains high in CBD, which they refer to as their Holy Trinity.
The Sisters use their homegrown CBD to create salves, tinctures, and ointments they have seen help with a wide variety of ailments including chronic pain and post-traumatic stress disorder.
While they may currently be stuck growing in a garage like hundreds of other medical marijuana producers in California, the Sisters are very intentional with their processes. In an interview with Business Insider, the Sisters said they infuse their products with willful healing through a series of rituals. They only manufacture from the new moon to the full moon, a long-held practice in biodynamic farming. On the first day of flowering their plants, the Sisters hold a ceremony under the stars to bless their work and they give thanks to the “Creator God and Mother Goddesses” for calling them to this profession. While processing tinctures, salves, and oils, Sister Kate smudges all the ingredients and equipment with sage and imparts a blessing.
Despite the appellation, the Sisters do not have ties with the Catholic Church. In fact, Christine Meeusen, 57, who goes by Sister Kate, says, “We’re against religion, so we’re not a religion.” Sister Kate founded the sisterhood in 2014 when she felt the mission to empower and heal women with cannabis. She continues, “We consider ourselves Beguine revivalists, and we reach back to pre-Christian practices.”
Meeusen grew up attending Catholic school and admits admiring the bond of sisterhood the nuns exhibited. She has been involved in political activism for many years and adopted the nun persona after she dressed as a Catholic nun during an Occupy Wall Street protest in 2011. What originally started as a costume developed into something much deeper as she became known as “Sister Occupy.”
The Sisters of the Valley definitely catch some slack for not being “real nuns,” but as Sister Kate explains, “When people say, ‘Well, they’re not real nuns,’ my answer is there are no nuns. They’re going extinct in this country.” Sister Kate says her sisters take a different kind of vow, a vow of healing with nature.
In 2015, the Sisters of the Valley sold about $60,000 worth of Medical Marijuana The following year, they brought their revenue up to $750,000. With the move to an online store, Sister Kate says they bring in almost $60,000 monthly.
The sisterhood’s five-year plan includes a national network of cultivation chapters called abbeys.
Cover photo courtesy of Jamie Riley.