Kate Meeusen was once a high-flying business executive, but she turned in the corporate world for a quieter life as a nun.
A quiet life that includes running a multi-million dollar cannabis growing operation, that is.
Meeusen, 60, started the Sisters of the Valley order in Merced County, California, a convent and farm that focuses on growing cannabis. Meeusen was profiled by the U.K.’s Independent, which noted that she started the operation in 2011 with just 12 plants and has since grown it into an international business that brings in more than $1.1 million in revenue each year.
The nuns harvest their plans to create cannabidiol (CBD) products that include oils to treat a range of diseases including epilepsy. The order is now the subject of a documentary showing how the nuns clash with the local county sheriff and fend off thieves looking to steal and sell their plants. Meeusen advocates CBD as an effective medicine that helps people heal from ailments, treat diseases, and break addictions to harder and more dangerous drugs.
California was a leader in legalizing marijuana, becoming the first state to legalize the medical use of the drug and in 2016, it legalized the recreational use of the drug as well. The state also allows for growing operations, which operate in the state just like any other farm or business — along with some specific state regulations.
Sister Kate has been in the cannabis growing business with her fellow nuns for more than eight years and says she has seen some incredible medical results from it. The operation uses cannabis to help cure addictions and said they have been successful in helping people stop using alcohol, tobacco, and even meth. Sister Kate admitted that it is a small sample size — they have worked with eight people so far — but the results have all been positive.
“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.
Sister Kate has plans to expand beyond California, saying she wants to have “enclaves in every town and province in the next 20 years.” There could be quite a market for that, with research firm Grand View Research, Inc. noting that the global legal marijuana market is expected to reach $146.4 billion by 2025. It is not clear just how much of that market share is occupied by Catholic nuns, but it’s likely that Sister Kate Meeusen and the Sisters of the Valley are in small company.