Nestled deep in northern California wine country, a ranch run by a bunch of nuns, who call themselves the “Sisters of the Valley,” sits on the picturesque land. On the ranch, the nuns grow and cultivate marijuana, earning them the nickname the “weed nuns.” And they don’t just grow the stuff, as ABC News correspondent Juju Chang recently found out — they also light up and smoke a bowl or a joint recreationally.
These are some nuns who need a little more than just God to get high. Belief in a divine spirit isn’t quite enough, but a bowl of ganja, not to mention a healthy serving of feminism, just might be. However, the weed the nuns produce and distribute won’t get you high. The particular strain of marijuana the nuns grow has no THC, the chemical responsible for causing users to get high, and they say the pot they’re producing is strictly for medicinal purposes. The strain of Mary Jane they grow contains CBD (cannabidiol), which is a healing agent and can be smoked or fashioned into oils and salves to treat chronic pain, joint pain, insomnia, anxiety, and depression, Sister Alice explained.
“It’s considered hemp because it won’t get anybody high, but it’s really marijuana,” said Sister Kate. “It’s medical marijuana, but just like over the years they’ve been able to develop strains that get you super high. We’ve also developed strains that don’t get you high at all.”
In addition to being radical weed nuns, the women are also radical feminists, Chang reports. Six nuns work in the weed business and two brothers are part of the enterprise as well, but keeping the business women-owned and operated is a top priority. “We do need men. And we don’t want to be exclusive of the men,” explains Sister Kate, who appears to the group’s leader. “We just want the women to own the businesses and hold all the offices in town. That’s all,” she adds, causing her fellow sisters to break out laughing.
And make no mistake — Sister Kate is very political. She said the pot business is an outgrowth of the Occupy Wall Street movement. “My big dirty sin is I voted for Ronald Reagan,” Sister Kate confessed. “But I grew out of it and I think I see more clearly now.” As far as the pot business goes, she’s less Nancy Botwin and more Bernie Sanders.
“Healhty socialism,” Sister Kate says of her enterprise. “Well, we believe in paying taxes,” she said when Chang asked her to explain. “We believe quite frankly that America’s culture of starving the tax system is wrong. It’s morally wrong. Most of us have lived in other places where the tax systems have actually worked.” She cited the Netherlands as an example, saying residents pay 50 percent of earnings to the government. “But guess what?” she exclaimed. “They never pay a hospital bill. They never have to worry about their retirement or being homeless.”
Sister Kate said the nuns are trying to turn patriarchy on its head. “We are on a mission to empower women to be their best spiritually, to be their best as an activist and to be in service to their own people of the planet.”
Though the nuns wear the traditional habit and clothing of sisters, they are not actually affiliated with any religion or church. But they do take regular prayer breaks and say grace together before eating a meal. And they’ve taken a set of vows.
“We do take six vows, we take vows service, of activism, about chastity which requires privatizing our sexuality,” Sister Kate said. “It doesn’t require being celibate but it does require keeping it very private off the grid. We have a vow of living simply which — speaks for itself.”
Oh, and you might be wondering how much money their pot business is bringing in. Last year, they raked in $1.1 million, Sister Kate said. Below, watch JuJu Chang’s full report.
Read the full story at ABC News.