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Meet the 'nuns' making $3,000 a day growing pot and selling cannabis products

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Meet the 'nuns' making $3,000 a day growing pot and selling cannabis products

WATCH | The Sisters of the Valley are taking the cannabis industry by storm, but they look very different from their competitors.

In Merced County, California, you won't find much besides almond fields, a high crime rate and a bunch of nuns smoking weed.

The Sisters of the Valley is a company that sells cannabidiol (CBD) oils online. The company is run mostly by women out of two houses in California's Central Valley.

Their mission? "Get the cannabis plant-based medicine into the most amount of hands around the planet and create honorable, spiritual, progressive activism-filled jobs for women," says founder Sister Kate.

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You'll see two men in this picture, but most of the company's employees are women from their 20s to their 60s.

But they're not actually nuns. 

"We're not affiliated with any traditional religion," Sister Kate told Circa. "Our beguine ancestors, they made career paths for women, so we're like them."

The habits they wear aren't just a gimmick. 

"It puts us in sisterhood with our Muslim sisters who are the only women at this time that are dressing like our ancient mothers," said Sister Kate. "And that is making them subject to persecution."

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Up until recently, possessing marijuana was a crime in California. In 2016, Proposition 64 -- The Adult Use of Marijuana Act -- made it legal for people to use and grow the plant for personal use.

While medical and recreational weed is now legal in California, it is still illegal to grow more than 12 plants for medical use, much less sell them.

"Yes, we've had the sheriff's department here, of course," Sister Kate said.

But she maintains that what they're doing is legal. Their products, which aren't smokable, are CBD-based and contain less than 0.3% THC, which is the federal limit for cannabis products.

 

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The "sisters" prepare all of their products during moon cycles, and as it grows, each plant is subject to a daily prayer.

"[The sheriff's department] did an expensive investigation and they decided that we're not doing anything more than hemp, because they couldn't even detect any THC in their labs," Sister Kate said.

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Besides selling plant-based medicine, the "sisters" also hold "Full Moon Ceremonies" for the community in which they practice rituals from different religions and smoke a joint or drink a glass of wine.

The Sisters of the Valley are making an average of $3,000 a day selling their oils online, according to Sister Claire, who handles the finances for the company. And demand is only growing. They currently ship orders all around the world.

But because the rules of the cannabis industry are still being written, they've had issues collecting all their profit.

"We're finding it difficult in working with the banks to handle our payments," said Sister Claire.

One of the sisters was working at a restaurant when Sister Kate's son saw her (and had a crush on her) and asked her to come to one of the Full Moon Ceremonies.

So the company has been forced to switch to a U.K.-based bank to handle their payments.

"Until the federal [U.S.] government approves this as an industry," Sister Claire said, "it forces you to either go to a cash-based business and find another payment processor."

In July 2016, just four months after launching, they lost most of their profits because the U.S. credit card processor they were dealing with lost all their data.

If you step into the co-op that is Sisters of the Valley, you'll see two houses in which one kitchen is for eating and the other is for extracting CBD from plants. You'll see rooms where some of the sisters live; the others commute.

You'll also see 12 people on the "farm." Ten of them are women.

"As you notice, there's men around here. I wouldn't have young women here if it was exclusively women," Sister Kate said. "We have men around, but that's not the point. The women own and the women make the decisions."


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Sister Kate says working with plant is a "spiritual" experience.

Before starting Sisters of the Valley, Sister Kate was a consultant and analyst living in America's heartland.

A bad divorce and a need for money and a place to stay for her three kids brought her to Merced, California, where her brother lived at the time.

"That situation where I didn't want to travel and I really didn't want to go back into the business world led us to founding a cannabis co-op just for survival and growing cannabis and delivering it to sick and dying people," Sister Kate said.


While the sisters don't sell THC, they definitely smoke it -- most of them.

Once production of THC is legalized, they plan to delve right in. They're not in dispensaries right now, but the demand is there, and they're hoping to meet it.

"Our opportunities are coming from unlikely places like people who came out of the pharmaceutical industry, are converting a tobacco farm into a cannabis farm, and they want to use our recipes and help us," Sister Kate said.


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