Cannabis Nuns: An unconventional group of cannabis cultivators recently caught the attention of several media publications worldwide. Called “Sisters of the Valley,” the duo is composed of unorthodox nuns, Sister Kate Meeusen and Sister Darcy Johnson. Based in Merced, California, the two-woman team currently operate a makeshift growing house from their garage.
Before starting the marijuana venture, 55-year-old Meeusen was working as a financial consultant in Amsterdam. She moved to the US during the 2008 financial crisis, where her brother persuaded her to start the business. Johnson, who is 24, joined the cause a few years after. Together the women embraced the practice of dressing as nuns in 2011 during a local rally. After receiving special treatment for their newfound look, they decided to stick with the outfits and incorporate the uniform with the business.
“When people say, ‘Well, they’re not real nuns,’ my answer is there are no nuns. They’re going extinct in this country,” explained Sister Kate during an interview with Tech Insider.
Growing with a Purpose
The sisters are not part of a traditional religious group. Instead, they apply the basic principles of spirituality and commitment to their business (for example, “Bible Time” refers to time spent on social media, e-mails and customer feedback). While the nuns may seem like they’re filled with questionable publicity gimmicks, they don’t mess around when it comes to cannabis production and operation.
With 12 thriving cannabis plants, the duo creates a wide range of marijuana products that are designed to treat common and rare ailments. “We make CBD oil which takes away seizures, and a million other things,” said Sister Kate. “And we make a salve, that’s a multi-purpose salve… and we found out that it cures migraines, hangovers, earaches, diaper rash toothaches.”
Selling on Etsy
The nuns started selling their green goods on Etsy, a popular e-commerce platform for small businesses. Although the women are holding a valid medical marijuana growing license, the website took down their online store without warning due to alleged health claims. To keep operations running smoothly, the sisters started a crowdfunding campaign on GoFundMe. The money raised from the campaign will be used to transition to a new e-commerce platform, and launch a wholesale program in the near future.
Unfortunately, Meeusen and Johnson aren’t in the clear just yet. The Merced City Council blocked the duo’s plans for expansion because of a proposed ban on cannabis cultivation in the area. Last year, the government passed the Medical Marijuana Safety and Regulation Act to closely monitor the fast-moving industry. The ruling set forth a deadline for cities in California to apply their own bans on marijuana production.
“We are completely illegal, banned through commerce and banned through growing,” said Sister Kate. “They made criminals of us overnight. It’s frustrating to me because there are all of these people with negative attitudes about something that is truly God’s gift.”
This post was originally published on April 6, 2016, it was updated on March 15, 2017.