A group of nuns are raking in £850,000 a year after turning a convent into an international cannabis operation.
Sister Kate Meeusen, 60, started the Sisters of the Valley in California’s Merced County in 2011 with just 12 plants.
Today, the business is flourishing and the community of nuns have high hopes of expanding their medicinal marijuana empire.
The nuns use their cannabidiol (CBD) products, which include salves and oils, to treat everything from epilepsy to cancer – and claim to have so far cured eight people of addictions.
A documentary released to mark the annual 420 cannabis celebration – on 20 April – explores how Sister Kate and her team have fought bitterly against “white man rule”, including the obstructionist country sheriff and black market thieves.
“We don’t like the white man rule,” said Sister Kate. “Farm people are very slow to adapt to new ideas, people are stuck in the 1950s with their ideas towards the cannabis plant for medicinal use.”
She added: “We have a 100 per cent success rate in curing people of their addictions. Admittedly we don’t have a huge sample size, we worked with eight people who were addicted to either alcohol, tobacco or meth, but they all got better.
“That’s a better success rate than Alcoholics Anonymous.”
Sister Kate, who used to work as a high-flying corporate executive before farming cannabis, described it as a “wonderfully healing plant”.
“Gradually the world is starting to open up to the idea of cannabis as medicine, rather than treating it as a dangerous drug,” she said.
The Breaking Habits documentary, directed by British filmmaker Rob Ryan, is just part of the sisters’ plan for world expansion of their medicinal-marijuana empire.
“We intend to have enclaves in every town and province in the next 20 years,” said Sister Kate.
“We’re going to be doing more and more with Hollywood because that’s the megaphone to the world.
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“We’re also planning an edgy, political series done in cartoon form.”
On Monday, the nuns plan to protest the ecclesiastic privilege within the Church that allows some abuse to go unreported.
“We are accustomed to fighting for the rights of the marginalised,” she said.
“It’s an important bill that would allow California to join some 20 other states and Canada in denying this privilege as an excuse for not reporting abuse.”
Documentary filmmaker Mr Ryan said Sister Kate’s fight to change the cannabis industry from “stoner to healer” was genuine and heartfelt.
“It’s a story about a woman taking on the local establishment to change the law on cannabis in the healing sense,” he said.
///The Independent UK