It’s not quite the classic tale of the nuns fighting to save the monastery but rather a modern spin on that tale: two “women of the cloth” taking a courageous stand against the city council of Merced, California in the hopes of keeping their humble business intact. But that humble business is the manufacturing of cannabidiol oil and other marijuana-based products from a small crop of cannabis plants growing in the women’s garage. Likewise, these aren’t nuns in the traditional sense, though they approach their business on a foundation of spirituality.
UPDATE: Catching up with the Sisters
Two years after we originally published this story, the Sisters of the Valley are still going strong from their headquarters in Merced, California. While increased press surrounding the sisters has no doubt helped with sales in post-legalization California, they’ve also faced additional struggles including a violent attack from cartel members (the sisters are now armed). Despite the threats that come with success in the cannabis industry, the sisters have forged onward with their mission to provide CBD products to their patients and loyal customer base. Their story is so captivating that it’s most recently become the focus of a documentary, Breaking Habits, that debuted at the 2018 Cannes Film Festival.
A “Convent” That Produces Cannabidiol Oil
Sister Kate officiates over the Sisters of the Valley which only counts one other member among its roster; Sister Kate’s apprentice, Sister Darcey. Together, the self-appointed “nuns” cultivate a modest cannabis crop within their shared garage, ultimately producing cannabidiol oil with low THC and high demand. Their work is well-documented in videos, like the one below, that capture the spiritual essence and love that the Sisters of the Valley pour into their oils and salves.
The Typo That Threatens the Sisters
Recently, the Merced City Council made clear its intent to take advantage of a typo in California’s recent reforms in legal language regulating medical marijuana. This typo has sent a slew of California cities scrambling to outlaw marijuana-related businesses and dispensaries prior to the accidental March 1st deadline instated by the typo. The Sisters of the Valley find themselves directly in the crosshairs of the proposal being put into motion by the City Council of Merced. The production of cannabidiol oil, despite the low levels of THC, would find Sister Kate and Sister Darcey in violation of the city of Merced’s ban.
Emergency legislation has already been set to remove the erroneous March 1st deadline from California’s Medical Marijuana Regulation and Safety Act, but as it stands, state laws and regulations regarding marijuana will become more lax at that time. Thus the Merced City Council have a closing window, and a heightened sense of urgency to set their own restrictions or bans.
The proposal out of Merced’s City Council may seem like an ominous wall for two women of the cloth to surmount, especially when that cloth is most likely spun from hemp. However, the distribution of marijuana for medicinal purposes was voted in by the Merced Planning Commission. Now, it’s up to the sisters and their allies to save their cannabidiol oil business by standing against the stress put on the Planning Commission to ban the growth of marijuana plants within Merced city lines.
The Spirituality Supporting Sisters of the Valley
Merced’s Sisters of the Valley are a rather new enterprise, having just commemorated their first anniversary. While they don the habits associated with nuns, they’ve affirmed that they’re not a member of any popular religion. However, their habits are worn with a great sense of spirituality. Sister Kate further clarifies, “We spend no time on bended knee but when we make our medicine, it’s a prayerful environment. It’s a prayerful time.”
Sister Kate and Sister Darcey hope that they can persuade the Merced City Council to forego an outright ban. The minds behind Sisters of the Valley will go before the council prior to the vote to reaffirm that their low-THC cannabidiol oil is not a threat to the community but rather a medical aid that shouldn’t be denied to those patients who benefit from it. Sister Kate claims that her CBD oil formula prevents seizures and remains a top seller among cancer patients. But while the council may not be exactly closing a convent, it may be simplified to see this as the threat of shuttering a business. Perhaps Sister Darcey sums it up best with her explanation, “It’s part of my life design. I have to feel important and this really does (allow me to feel important).”