Local officials in the San Joaquin Valley are cracking down on medical marijuana, but a pair of local cannabis “nuns” say they won’t cave to the pressure.
Actually, they’re not nuns, at least not in the religious sense. They have no affiliation with the Vatican or any other church. Their purpose is growing pot, not spreading the Gospel.
But they’re on a mission to heal, and they’ve been working for three years to provide local patients with their medicine. The women, who call themselves the Sisters of the Valley, continue to grow cannabis plants low in THC, the chemical that gets users high, and rich in CBD, a chemical used in many medical treatments.
CBD is especially helpful in treating severe pediatric epilepsy, and because it is non-intoxicating, it is less controversial than marijuana containing THC. In other words, the sisters are providing a medicine, not a drug.
Refusal to stop providing medicine
The crackdown by officials in Merced has put new pressure on the nuns to close up shop, but they refuse. Sister Darcey and Sister Kate, as they call themselves, released a statement recently, saying they had no plans to quit growing marijuana for their patients.
“This ban does not apply to us and so we’ve been operating straight through it,” they said. “Our medicine is medicine, and it is non-psychoactive. We’re dealing with what is actually hemp but really we advocate for whole-plant legalization.”
The sisters have been fighting medical marijuana restrictions on both the local and state level. They sell their cannabis to a wide array of patients in search of CBD, and while they run a retail business, they work to make sure low-income patients have access to CBD.
The women wear habits and pray, but they describe themselves as “spiritual” rather than religious nuns. Their “holy trinity” includes mother Earth, healing, and progressive activism. They give time each week to “the good fight” for poor patients.
Cannabis has numerous medical uses
Sister Darcey and Sister Kate first grew CBD marijuana to treat arthritis, but they say patients tell them it also helps with migraines, toothaches, and earaches. CBD is known to treat many other conditions, including cancer and seizure disorders.
The sisters pray over each bottle of CBD marijuana concentrate before sending it to their customers, a ritual that is reflected in the price: $95 for an 8-ounce bottle of “holy salve” and $85 for 2 ounces of CBD oil. Sister Kate said their business pulls down about $1,000 a day.
Merced is located in the San Joaquin Valley, a conservative stretch of the state where many communities have banned all cultivation and sale of medical cannabis. Penalties are often stiff, and patients are forced to drive long distances to buy their legal medicine.
It’s unclear how much risk the sisters are taking by keeping their doors open. Merced officials have wide authority to drive the nuns out of business, even to jail them, but their high profile and local popularity may make that a difficult task for the city.