On a small, one-acre farm just outside of Merced, a group of non-catholic nuns have made their mark on the cannabis industry. Their religion doesn’t include gods or deities, but rather a peaceful existence creating CBD-based products which have helped countless customers deal with pain.
The Sisters of the Valley are referred to by many as the “Weed Nuns,” thanks to their line of CBD salves, oils, tinctures and even teas which are crafted from non-psychoactive cannabis. By utilizing CBD in their products, the Sisters of the Valley create medicine that has no effect on the mind, like THC does, but instead provides a powerful pain reliever and myorelaxant.
Sisters of the Valley founder Sister Kate Meeusen first declared herself a “nun” in 2011, she said, in protest of Congress declaring pizza a vegetable when it came to school lunches.
“I said, ‘If pizza is a vegetable, then I’m a nun,’” Meeusen said.
What followed next was the creation of a full-fledged business with nature, activism and healing at its core. She developed the Sisters of the Valley’s first line of products in 2015 and the rest is history.
Meeusen believes that the group’s products are especially helpful thanks to their practices — all products are made by women and the cannabis crops are grown in accordance with lunar cycles.
“We get some pretty amazing healing stories from people, and we attribute that to the fact that it’s a very feminine environment and everything is done with energy of the moon magnifying what we create,” Meeusen said. “Women are natural healers and having medicine separate from men feels like natural dance.”
While there are some men who work on the farm in the 209 and other Sisters of the Valley enclaves throughout the world (the sisterhood of non-catholic nuns has expanded to countries like Brazil, Mexico and Sweden), they mainly serve as farmhands and tend to the crops. The sisters, on the other hand, are the ones who turn marijuana into money by developing the medicinal products.
According to Meeusen, the nuns live and work together and are committed to leading lives of simplicity that respect nature and each other. They are inspired by the Beguine women’s movement of the 13th Century, she said, and also take a vow of activism. The sisters spend hours each week advocating for causes related not only to marijuana, but feminist and social equality struggles. All of this falls in line with their main goal: helping people heal, including themselves.
“We’re very much into empowering ourselves,” Meeusen said. “…We value exercise and taking the best care of yourself...Running a business like this you could work all the time. If we wanted that, we would have just stayed working for the man.”
One of the Sisters of the Valley’s best sellers is their CBD salve, made from hemp-based CBD, coconut oil, beeswax, Vitamin E and lavender oil. The rub-on product is often used for joint pain, or as an aid for migraines. The salve is a must-have for most customers, Meeusen said, adding that one patient traveled from Norway to get her hands on it.
“Not all medicine helps all people, but our topical salve is what people give us the most amount of raves about,” she said. “That’s the thing people can’t live without.”
Before the coronavirus pandemic, Meeusen said Sisters of the Valley sold 50,000 products per month. Between COVID-19 and recent wildfires impacting the business, sales are now about a fourth of that number.
Still, she hopes that as time passes things will return to normal. She anticipates more people coming around to the idea of cannabis as medicine as well.
“At one time it was a common belief system that women had smaller brains than men, that the earth was flat and that the sun rotated around the earth,” Meeusen said. “Throughout history, people have gotten common beliefs wrong and the common belief against the cannabis plant is completely wrong. Anyone who doesn’t understand it’s the best medicine we have will figure it out.”
To purchase CBD products from the Sisters of the Valley, visit www.sistersofthevalley.org.