A community of nuns are raking in £850,000 each year – by growing and selling cannabis .
Sister Kate Meeusen, who has dedicated her life to the planet and the needy, founded The Sisters of the Valley eight years ago with just 12 plants.
Now the 59-year-old’s business is flourishing in Merced County, California, and she claims its services have treated everything from epilepsy to cancer – and helped people beat addictions.
Sister Kate, who once ghostwrote a book of sex tips for men, said: “I’m like a person who’s naturally on cocaine.
“I have a lot of energy.
“We’re all very serious women on serious missions. The cannabis plant is just a reason to have salaries, so that we can be together and do our activism.”
The nuns sell products derived from a strain of cannabis which has had nearly all the psychoactive THC component bred out, but still contains CBD (cannabidiol), which is touted for its healing properties.
While CBD won’t get you stoned, the nuns smoke joints themselves on their farm.
California legalised medical marijuana in 1996 and, since then, 33 other states have allowed the sale of cannabis for medical purposes and ten permit recreational sales.
Speaking to The Times Magazine , Sister Kate added: “Most people are suspicious and think that we’re either trying to dodge taxes or we’re gimmicky. [They paid $160,000 (£125,000) in tax last year.] But once they start following us, they get that we’re real.”
Sister Alice, who was born in London and still watches Eastenders every day, reckons that in centuries past she and her fellow Sisters would have been persecuted as heretics.
In April, a documentary explored how Sister Kate and her team have fought bitterly against “white man rule”, including the obstructionist country sheriff and black market thieves.
“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,” mum-to-three Sister Kate 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.
The programme also showed how Sister Kate started the drug empire – after her marriage broke down.
When she discovered her husband’s betrayal , she became a nun.
“I struggled to breathe as I realised he’d spent all my money and our marriage had been a lie.
“All he’d wanted was to control me.
“Looking back, I think he was so full of self-loathing that he couldn’t stand the fact I’d loved and trusted him,” she said at the time.