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The sisters who make CBD



Nestled in the Central Valley, California, is not your typical convent, but the women there are no less dedicated to their cause. Meet the nuns on a mission to heal the world through plant-based medicine.

When the US congress passed a bill in 2011, which – to some interpretations – declared pizza a vegetable, an outraged Kate Meeusen, declared herself a nun. She didn’t realise at the time what she was signing up for.

Kate had a high-flying career, travelling Europe as a business consultant in deregulating industries, but after a devastating divorce a few years earlier, had moved to California as a single mother-of-three.

Feeling let down by the men in her life, she craved the peace and quiet of a life in the country, somewhere she could ‘heal’. But equally determined to create work and leadership opportunities for other women, she turned to the most promising deregulating market in her new home state – the cannabis industry.

Kate founded a non-profit cannabis collective in 2010, delivering cannabidiol medicine to terminally-ill patients and developing teas and tinctures so they could experience its effects without needing to smoke it.

The calling came soon after.

“I thought I was just being sarcastic and sort of giving a finger to the establishment, to how messed up things were,” Sister Kate says, talking to Cannabis Health from the Central Valley.

“I had no idea the journey it was going to take me on, at the time it was just a costume I had pulled out.”

The Sisters of the Valley was formed in 2014, with a mission statement to help as many people in the world access their medicine, as responsibly as possible.

She explains: “In 2014 I started to form the principles of what this new-age religion would look like.

“We decided we would be religious about women in business ownership. Women have been used for free labour for thousands of years, so we don’t allow volunteers or any unpaid work to happen under our roof.”

The Sisters of the Valley CBD now has franchises – or enclaves – in countries across the world, including the UK [Brother Matt is based in Southampton], with 22 active sisters and seven Brothers.

The colourful journey of how Sister Kate learned how to grow cannabis from black market dealers – and was shot at protecting her crop – has even featured on a Netflix documentary Breaking Habits.

Today there are eight Sisters based in California, of which three or four will live at the ‘convent’ at any one time.

“The women come to me,” says Sister Kate.

“My philosophy was that I would take in whoever came and I’ve been very successful in attracting women – many of whom already have a healing calling in them.

“Our message is a holistic one, we’re not doctors or scientists. We believe CBD is good for you.”

They might not be religious in the traditional sense, but the Sisters live a spiritual life, following the six basic principles, Solace:  Service, Obedience to the Moon Cycles, Living Simply, Activism, Chastity, Ecology and wearing veils to ‘protect their energy’.

They live and work around the cycles of the moon with all the products handmade by the women, set on the new moon, and bottled under the full moon.

They eat meals together and take part in communal prayers, but most of their work is carried out individually; from growing the crop, to making the medicine, to marketing and delivering their range of CBD-infused products worldwide.

“We believe in a depth of power that is greater than what we see,” says Sister Kate.

“We believe that the energies around the medicine have to be protected and that we’re here to protect them.

“In this day and age there is so much over communicating. Our number one thing is that we want a harmonious place to work, we value a quiet environment and separate solo work.

“We do everything we can to keep a monastery-like feeling in place.”

But she adds: “We do a lot of fun stuff too, because we don’t want to be working all the time.”

In their free time they might be out hiking, on bike rides, or taking part in group art or music sessions (during the coronavirus lockdown they all took up learning a musical instrument).

“We’re all aspiring to the six-hour work day and aim to spend our late afternoons doing art or music together,” she says.

The women come from a variety of backgrounds and vary in age, from Sister Kate who is 60, to Sister Quinn, who at 24 is one of the youngest.

She joined the enclave just over a year ago and now works with them part-time alongside her job as an analyst at the University of California Merced.

“When I first heard about the Sisters I thought it was amazing that they were here in the Central Valley,” says Sister Quinn.

“After I graduated I was so broke I reached out to them on Instagram and started working as Sister Kate’s assistant – I started wearing the veil soon after, they didn’t even have to convince me.”

Sister Quinn had begun using cannabis as a teenager, to help manage the symptoms of her ADHD but now uses it to treat anxiety, insomnia and chronic back pain, among other ailments saying she never uses anything else.

But it was the community that the Sisters have created that really won her over.

“It’s amazing to have people love you unconditionally,” she continues.

“My family did their best but they didn’t really give me what I needed emotionally.

“Being young, I’m not used to people being interested in my ideas, but the Sisters have helped me grow as a person, I’ve gained a lot more self-respect and self-awareness.”

Despite some surprise at first, her friends and family were mostly supportive about her decision to join the enclave, she says: “I’ve always paved my own way and I’m never going to fit in with the status quo, so most of my friends support me because they know how I am – I think they’re happy that I’ve found a home.”

She seems sure she’s found her ‘forever home’ and is even dreaming up a retirement plan in which she will lead her own enclave one day

“We’ve built a community here, where we are all really trying to better ourselves and the world around us, it’s amazing” she adds.

“I’ve been a lone wolf for a long time, so it’s nice to finally have a pack. I never realised how much I was missing.”

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