From left: Sister Sierra, Sister Kate, Sister Star and Sister Alice at the premiere of the documentary “Breaking Habits” at the Eureka Theater on Friday. The documentary features Sister Kate, who founded the cannabis business Sisters of the Valley. (Sonia Waraich — The Times-Standard)
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Sister Sierra spent 13 years as a nun with the Catholic Church before deciding to leave religious life behind. When she started smoking cannabis she figured no convent would take her back, so she found herself searching “weed” and “nun” on the internet. That’s when she found Sisters of the Valley, also known as the Weed Nuns, based in Merced, California.

“So this is my second time around,” Sister Sierra said. “They say the second time’s the best. I’m more fulfilled now religiously, spiritually, … in every which way.”

Sisters of the Valley isn’t a formal religious order associated with any institutional religion but rather a female-owned cannabis business that operates on the basis of sisterhood. Founded on January 1, 2015, its mission, as noted on the business’ Facebook page, “is to put prayers for healing intention into every jar and every bottle of natural medicine we make, and to help spread the good word about cannabis.”

Sister Sierra said what makes it more fulfilling is that “it’s not patriarchal” and “it’s owned by women.”

“I’m surrounded by some really intelligent women,” Sister Sierra said.

One of those woman — the one who started it all — Sister Kate, is the subject of a new documentary about the group of women called “Breaking Habits,” which premiered in Humboldt County at the Eureka Theater on Friday night.

“I feel like the film is a pulp fiction, chopped-up version of my life,” Sister Kate said. “They did some misleading things like make us look far more gangster than we really are.”

But Sister Kate said the unrated film has helped get the word out, is playing in 40 countries and has led to “about 10,000 people around the world (signing) up that want to open up sisterhoods, brotherhoods or become part of it.”

“I think we can attribute a lot of that to the outreach of the film,” Sister Kate said.

The women said it was important to spread the word about the healing power of cannabis, which had helped them in their own lives.

When Sister Star suffered a stroke, her doctors put her on a lot of medication. But Sister Star said she didn’t want to take so many pills on a daily basis and soon began using CBD, a compound in cannabis associated with pain relief. Sister Star said her brain injury has resulted in her language going away every day.

“This plant gives me words,” Sister Star said. “ … This plant heals whatever ails you.”

Sister Star found the Sisters of the Valley, which produces cannabis products that are high in CBD and low in THC, the compound in cannabis that is associated with getting a user high, in 2016.

Now Sister Star is part of the Weed Nuns and acts as a lobbyist for the business. She’s currently lobbying for Senate Bill 360, which would turn members of the clergy into court-mandated reporters, who are required to report instances of child abuse or neglect.

Sister Kate said she saw how cannabis and hemp were being deregulated and understood that capitalism is producing a lot of “throwaway people.”

“I’m an analyst and I put together that while this is a newly deregulating industry, it’s going to be the biggest on the planet,” Sister Kate said. “It’s going to be the biggest employer over the next 20 or 30 years. Women should own this industry and approach it from a spiritual and a real serious manner.”

The business has its challenges. Sister Kate said they lost their business banking two months ago, their personal banking on Friday, received cease-and-desist orders and get harassed by law enforcement.

“Yeah, it’s not fun to be on the frontier edge,” Sister Kate said.

Nonetheless, Sister Kate said it’s important to keep moving forward.

“Because we have a calling and because we know they’re wrong and because we know the change is coming anyways,” Sister Kate said. “So why not be part of it?”

The Sisters of the Valley will be at Humbrews in Arcata today from 5 p.m to 7 p.m., where Sister Kate will be signing copies of her book “Accidental Nun.”

For more information about the business, its mission and its products, go to https://www.sistersofcbd.com/.

The film “Breaking Habits” is available for rent or purchase at https://itunes.apple.com/us/movie/breaking-habits/id1450692264?ign-mpt=uo%3D4.

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