Is the U.S. Getting on Board With Marijuana Legalization?

Is the U.S. Getting on Board With Marijuana Legalization?

With companies like Aurora Cannabis (NYSE:ACB), Canopy Growth (NYSE:CGC), and Tilray (NASDAQ:TLRY) catching the attention of investors and consumers alike, it’s no surprise that marijuana legalization is a hot issue in the U.S. According to a report by Grandview Research, the U.S. market for cannabis was worth $11.3 billion in 2018, with an expected growth rate of 14.5% per year through 2025 — but that might be contingent on further loosening of prohibition laws. As of 2018, 21 states have debated legislation that would legalize recreational use of marijuana, and 33 states have already legalized some forms of cannabis for either recreational or medicinal use.

Presently, marijuana is fully legal for recreational use in only 11 of those states. With the exception of Vermont, jurisdictions with legalized recreational cannabis also provision for the commercialization of cannabis products for adults. Fully legalized marijuana remains uncommon in the United States, even if it’s significantly more common than it was 10 years ago.

2020 may see pivotal victories for legalization

In 2020, a handful of states will vote on full or partial legalization via referendum, including Arizona, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, New Jersey, and South Dakota. It’s reasonable to suspect that at least a couple of these political efforts will fall short, but legalization proponents shouldn’t despair. Many of the states that eventually legalized recreational cannabis via referendum had to try more than once before succeeding, as is typified by California’s failed ballot initiative in 2010. But cannabis investors will be pleased to learn that no state that decriminalized or legalized recreational use has repealed it, despite several different attempts via ballot measures. Thus, the country looks like it’s on track for legalization to make progress this election cycle, even if there’s still a long way to go.

Even as states move to reform their cannabis laws, federal regulatory bodies like the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) are prohibited by federal law from participating in quality control or consumer safety efforts. This means that as legalization advances, state governments need to build new infrastructure to make sure that their cannabis regulations are locally enforceable, thereby introducing a large amount of overhead to the legalization process. It may also make it harder for international cannabis companies to compete in the U.S. because they’ll need to deal with many different sets of regulations rather than just one.

Medicinal use and decriminalization aren’t the same as legalization

Full nationwide cannabis legalization is still a distant goal, and there are many cases where progress has been incremental rather than transformational. Sixteen states have decriminalized recreational marijuana use without implementing full legalization for recreational purposes. In these states, cannabis products are only sold for medicinal use, which is strictly controlled. In places like Idaho and Indiana, medicinal use is so tightly regulated that medicinal products from jurisdictions like California might not be legal. This is a concern for cannabis investors because it means businesses would need to make different products for these jurisdictions if they wanted to compete.

Similarly, many states haven’t committed to full decriminalization despite allowing for limited medicinal use. In Alabama, non-medical marijuana possession is a misdemeanor for first-time offenders and a felony for subsequent violations, so its “decriminalized” status is a bit of a misnomer. In contrast, Georgia’s laws tightly control the THC content of medicinal marijuana while formally forbidding any recreational use, but cities including Atlanta and Savannah have proceeded to decriminalize it anyway, creating precarious pockets of opportunity that businesses are hesitant to exploit.

Finally, there’s the issue of the federal government’s approach to cannabis policy. Right now, there’s no way to reconcile the fact that at the federal level, recreational cannabis is still fully illegal, even if state governments like New Hampshire’s claim to have nullified the federal prohibition. State-level initiatives aside, Congress was initially scheduled to vote on a legalization bill called the MORE Act this week, but with an upcoming battle over Supreme Court nominees looming, the vote will likely be delayed until after the 2020 election.

So, while it does look like there is nationwide momentum building behind legalization for recreational use, there’s still a long way to go, and there may be difficult legal battles ahead.

Here’s The Marijuana Stock You’ve Been Waiting For

A little-known Canadian company just unlocked what some experts think could be the key to profiting off the coming marijuana boom.

And make no mistake – it is coming.

Cannabis legalization is sweeping over North America – 11 states plus Washington, D.C., have all legalized recreational marijuana over the last few years, and full legalization came to Canada in October 2018.

And one under-the-radar Canadian company is poised to explode from this coming marijuana revolution.

Because a game-changing deal just went down between the Ontario government and this powerhouse company…and you need to hear this story today if you have even considered investing in pot stocks.

This story originally appeared at The Motley Fool.

Is Marijuana an ‘Essential’ Like Milk or Bread? Some States Say Yes

Is Marijuana an ‘Essential’ Like Milk or Bread? Some States Say Yes

In most cases, marijuana businesses must, like restaurants, limit themselves to takeout or delivery. Black-market dealers are also busy, but feel little need to abide by official orders.

With the coronavirus pandemic spreading rapidly across the country, millions of Americans are being told by state and county officials to take refuge at home, and only venture out to get things they really need. Groceries, naturally. Prescription drugs, of course. Gas for the car. Urgent medical care.

And in many places, marijuana makes the list.

Over the past week, more than a dozen states have agreed that while “nonessential” stores had to close, pot shops and medical marijuana dispensaries could remain open — official recognition that for some Americans, cannabis is as necessary as milk and bread.

In most cases, the marijuana businesses must, like restaurants, limit themselves to taking orders for delivery or curbside pickup.

As Americans have raced in recent weeks to stock up on supplies like toilet paper, canned goods and hand sanitizer, many who live in states where marijuana has been legalized — including California, Oregon and Michigan — also rushed to buy enough cannabis products to last them through weeks, if not months, of hunkering down at home.

After a stay-at-home order was issued to San Francisco Bay Area residents last week, marijuana sales soared more than 150 percent over the same period a year earlier, said Liz Connors, director of analytics at Headset, a cannabis market research company. She said purchases of edibles like gummy candies surged to levels typically only seen around April 20, or “4/20,” the annual, if unofficial, marijuana appreciation holiday.

Women and young people — Generation Z — accounted for much of the sales growth, according to Headset.

“It shows that a lot of people think cannabis is just another consumer good, like beer or wine,” said Ms. Connors, who noted that edible products may have been the most popular because customers were taking precautions to avoid infection. “It’s probably the easiest way to get high without touching your face very much,” she said.

On Monday, the mayor of Denver included liquor stores and recreational marijuana shops among the nonessential businesses he ordered to close on Tuesday for the next three weeks, prompting long lines to form outside some stores. Medical marijuana dispensaries, however, were exempt. But after an outcry, the city reversed the ban a few hours later.

Pennsylvania has allowed marijuana dispensaries to continue operating, though liquor stores were ordered closed. But many states, including New York, have decided that liquor stores are essential businesses, too, and could remain open. Alabama issued an emergency order allowing curbside sales of alcoholic beverages at licensed stores.

Over the last week, marijuana sales have soared in many states, including California, Colorado, Washington and Pennsylvania, where Ilera Healthcare, a dispensary in the town of Plymouth Meeting, had its biggest week ever, according to Greg Rochlin, the company’s chief executive.

“People were concerned we would be shut down,” Mr. Rochlin said, comparing the rush on marijuana to “hoarding toilet paper.”

But while toilet paper has sometimes been nearly impossible to find in grocery stores and pharmacies, Ilera Healthcare has not run out of pot.

In many states, cannabis businesses are being careful to adhere to standards defined by the federal government to ensure they are deemed essential and can remain open. Nevada regulators have allowed recreational stores and dispensaries to operate as long as they prevent crowds from forming, so the stores have urged customers to order online or over the phone. Illinois halted recreational weed sales but authorized medical marijuana patients to pick up orders curbside or in parking lots.

Mindful of rules on social distancing and eager to attract anxious customers, many pot shops and dispensaries have sought to adapt by offering more deliveries and changing their practices.

Curaleaf, which runs 53 dispensaries in 17 states, is setting aside the first hour of operations each day for customers who are 60 or older. It also has created an app, available in Maryland, New Jersey and Nevada, that lets customers wait in their cars for their turn to shop, rather than stand in line outside the store.

Despite high demand, however, not all states that have ordered business closures because of the virus outbreak are allowing legal marijuana businesses to continue to serve customers.

When Gov. Charlie Baker of Massachusetts announced that all nonessential businesses must close on Tuesday, he allowed medical dispensaries to stay open but not recreational pot shops.

Jackie Subeck, a cannabis industry consultant in Los Angeles, said she planned to restock her personal supply this week, out of concern that California may soon enforce even more restrictions over the coronavirus.

At the same time, she said she was worried the marijuana supply chain might soon dry up because the masks and gloves that workers in the legal industry are required to wear are now in short supply.

“I want to make sure I have enough to maintain my daily lifestyle,” she said. “For me, it’s more important to have enough cannabis around than alcohol.”

Not surprisingly, black-market pot dealers have also been doing a brisk business during the crisis, and unlike legal sellers, they feel little need to abide by official orders. One dealer in New York City said sales suddenly picked up two weeks ago when residents began to grow more nervous about imminent social distancing restrictions. “People were coming out of the woodwork,” said the dealer, who asked to be identified only by his first name, Chris, to avoid trouble with the police.

He has since sold out of marijuana candies, and said he was constantly getting calls for more weed. Customers no longer like to hang out in his apartment or let him linger during deliveries, he said. And he related how a couple showed up outside his building recently wearing masks and gloves, handed him a box of disinfectant wipes with the cash hidden inside, and drove off after he tossed their order into their car through an open window.

Still, he said, many of his customers have confided that buying marijuana was worth the close contact, if only to relieve their anxiety.

“They’ll say things like, ‘I’m going to be locked up with my wife for the next-God-knows-how-long and need this desperately.’” he said.

Dan Levin covers American youth for the National Desk. He was a foreign correspondent covering Canada from 2016 until 2018. From 2008 to 2015, Mr. Levin was based in Beijing, where he reported on human rights, politics and culture in China and Asia. @globaldan

This story originally appeared at NY Times.

These States Are Voting on Cannabis Legalization This November

These States Are Voting on Cannabis Legalization This November

In 2016, the US election resulted in a green wave as cannabis legalization measures passed in eight out of nine states.Now, the industry and its supporters are hoping for another big win in November.

This year, voters in five states will decide whether to adopt either new medical or recreational cannabis laws — or, perhaps, both in the case of one state. As it stands now, 33 states have legalized medical cannabis, and of those, 11 states have legalized cannabis for adult recreational use.

If more states join that list, it could serve as a huge opportunity for industry growth as legalization supporters believe successful ballot initiatives could have a domino effect on other states — especially those looking to address budgetary and social justice issues. “We’ve seen public support continue to grow every year,” said Karen O’Keefe, director of state policies for the Marijuana Policy Project, the legalization advocacy group backing several of the measures.

Cannabis sales in states that have legalized the plant for medical and recreational purposes totaled about $15 billion in 2019, and are expected to top $30 billion by 2024, according to data from BDS Analytics, which tracks dispensary sales. Below is a look at the five states voting on legal cannabis this November.

Arizona

Four years ago, residents in the Grand Canyon State narrowly defeated an initiative to legalize recreational cannabis. It failed by fewer than 67,100 votes, with 51.3% of voters saying no.The 2016 measure was hotly contested, attracting a combined $13 million from high-profile donors such as soap company Dr. Bronner’s, which was in favor of the measure, and opponents such as billionaire casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, tire retailer Discount Tire, and pharmaceutical company Insys. This time around, the backers of the recreational cannabis initiative include some of the biggest names in the US cannabis business — an industry that has matured significantly during the past four years. State election finance records show that contributors supporting Proposition 207 include multi-state cannabis producers and retailers such as the Tempe, Arizona-based Harvest Health & Recreation (HRVSF) and firms such as Curaleaf (CURLF) and Cresco Labs (CRLBF), which have cultivation and retail operations in Arizona’s medical cannabis industry.Still in staunch opposition are Governor Doug Ducey, the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Smart Approaches to Marijuana, a national organization that opposes the legalization and commercialization of cannabis.

For the most part, Proposition 207 is structured similarly to 2016’s measure. It would allow adults 21 years and older to possess, consume or transfer up to 1 ounce of cannabis and create a regulatory system for the products’ cultivation and sale. Some key differences with the new measure include the addition of social equity provisions and criminal justice reforms such as record expungement.According to estimates from industry publication Marijuana Business Daily, recreational sales in Arizona could total $700 million to $760 million by 2024.

New Jersey

When Governor Phil Murphy was elected in 2017, he vowed to deliver on a campaign trail promise to legalize cannabis. At the time, he told the New Jersey Star-Ledger that legalization could be a $300 million boon to state coffers but that the biggest reasons for legalization would be for social justice purposes — overhauling old drug laws that disproportionately criminalized people of color.

However, legislative efforts to legalize failed to drum up enough support. Lawmakers ultimately decided to go another route and put the measure before voters.If approved, Public Question No. 1 would legalize cannabis for adults 21 and older. The program will be regulated by the same commission that oversees New Jersey’s medical cannabis businesses, and the recreational cannabis products would be subject to the state sales tax (currently 6.625%).By initial estimates, New Jersey’s recreational cannabis market could be hefty. Marijuana Business Daily pegs annual sales between $850 million and $950 million by 2024 — but a successful initiative carries greater significance outside of New Jersey’s borders. The passage of recreational cannabis in New Jersey could accelerate legislative efforts in neighboring New York and Pennsylvania.

South Dakota

Usually states have legal medical cannabis programs in place before adopting recreational cannabis laws.South Dakota could enact medical and recreational programs in one fell swoop.Voters in South Dakota will decide on Measure 26, which would establish a medical cannabis program and registration system for people with qualifying conditions, as well as on Amendment A, which would legalize cannabis for all adults and require state legislators to adopt medical cannabis and hemp laws.The South Dakota Legislative Research Council projected that Amendment A could result in $29.3 million in tax revenue by the state’s 2024 fiscal year. Sales estimates were not yet available, according to the Marijuana Policy Project, which is assisting with the South Dakota campaign.

Montana

Montana voters also will see two cannabis initiatives on their ballots.Ballot issue I-190 would allow adults in the state to possess, buy and use cannabis for recreational use. A separate initiative, CI-118, would establish 21 as the legal age to purchase, possess and consume cannabis.

If passed, I-190 would establish a 20% tax on recreational cannabis, with more than half of the tax collections landing in the state general fund and the rest allocated to programs such as enforcement, substance abuse treatment and veterans’ services. The measure also would allow people serving a sentence for certain cannabis-related acts to apply for resentencing or records expungement.According to a fiscal analysis, the state expects recreational cannabis sales to total nearly $193 million in 2025, generating $38.5 million in tax revenue.

Mississippi

In Mississippi, there are two competing measures to legalize cannabis for medical purposes.Initiative 65, which resulted from a citizen petition, would allow physicians to recommend medical cannabis for patients with any of 22 qualifying conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and post-traumatic stress disorder. The constitutional amendment would establish a regulatory program for businesses to grow and sell medical cannabis and for the products to be taxed at a 7% rate.Under Mississippi law, the legislature has the option to amend or draft an alternate measure, and that’s what it did here via Initiative 65A. The competing measure requires medical products that are of pharmaceutical quality, limits the smoking of medical cannabis to people who are terminally ill, and leaves the future creation of rules and a regulatory framework up to the legislature.Officials from Marijuana Business Daily said that if Initiative 65 is passed, medical sales could total between $750 million to $800 million by 2024.

This story first appeared at CNN.


Ancient Egypt’s Rich History Of Medical Cannabis

Ancient Egypt’s Rich History Of Medical Cannabis

In Egypt, medical cannabis use goes back for millennia. 

And while many different early cultures cultivated cannabis, the ancient Egyptians exemplified a truly holistic use of the plant. It’s even possible that cannabis — Egyptian hieroglyphs called it shemshemet — became popular before the great pyramids were built. 

Egypt’s historical use of shemshemet appears twofold. On one hand hemp may have been used for fiber and textile; on the other hand, the more psychoactive components of cannabis may have been used medicinally. Though many sources today appear authoritative in their claims that the ancient Egyptians used hemp for this and cannabis for that, a closer inspection of the evidence is needed. 

Let’s take a trip back through Egyptian history, beginning around the year 3,000 BC.

Cannabis Hints in the Historical Record

While the exact timeline is less than crystal clear, cannabis was likely used in ancient Egypt as many as5,000 years ago. Some speculate that depictions of the Egyptian Goddess of writing, Sheshat, are brimming with cannabis-inspired themes. In many paintings, she’s shown with a star-shaped leaf atop her head and a fibrous rope in her hand. Was Sheshat’s creative ability courtesy of some help from hemp? It’s a fun theory, but let’s move on to more evidence-based examples. 

First, it’s important to understand the context in which Egyptian medicine found itself. The culture’s understanding of the human body was far ahead of its time, and, relatively speaking, extraordinarily advanced. Although the ancient Egyptians preceded Pasteur’s germ theory by thousands of years, they nonetheless placed a great value on cleanliness and sanitation. And customs like embalming added to the Egyptian’s understanding of how the human body worked.

This same medical knowledge lent itself to the extensive use of medicinal plants. At first, this usage blurred the lines — merged them, even — between science and religion. As Egyptologist Barbara Watterson notes, “the earliest ‘doctor’ was a magician, for the Egyptians believed that disease and sickness were caused by an evil force entering the body.” Thankfully, plant-based incantations seemed to be a perfect cure. 

Soon enough, cannabis was discovered as among the best and most powerful of these plant-based preparations. Its dual psychotropic and healing properties likely made cannabis popular among the dual doctor-magicians of ancient times. And while it’s unclear exactly when cannabis use became mainstream, the plant’s residue has been found in Egyptian artifacts dating back to more than 4,000 years ago.

Around 2,000 BCE, cannabis salves were used to treat eye sores and glaucoma. Today science has proven what the ancient Egyptians learned through centuries of experience: that cannabis is a potent anti-inflammatory which reduces intraocular pressure. Another Egyptologist, Lise Manniche, notes in her book An Ancient Egyptian Herbal that several texts dating back to the 18th century BCE encouraged readers to “plant medicinal cannabis.”

Cannabis Referenced In Ancient Scrolls

It’s now fairly common knowledge that Egypt was a pioneer in the development of papyrus and parchment papers. With these scrolls came the culture’s ability to write and document — and our ability to take a glimpse into their world. Papyri covering everything from legal topics to mythological tales to medical records have been found, and naturally, the medical papyri sometimes mention cannabis.

The Ramesseum Papyri | According to The British Museum, the Ramesseum Papyri “have been described as the ‘most precious single find of papyri’ from pharaonic Egypt.” As one of the oldest medical records ever discovered (circa ~ 1750 BCE), it’s likely these tales reflect a cumulative buildup of the healing techniques of even earlier generations.

The Ramesseum Papyri get their name from their origin: the ancient city of Ramesseum. Researchers have uncovered countless other gems from this Ramesses II-built city, nearly all of which points to the era’s educational prowess. 

The Papyri themselves point to this, too. They include information about childhood illness, anatomy, recovery from volcano-induced injuries, and the birthing process. Plate A26 of the Ramesseum III Papyrus describes this treatment for the eyes: “celery, cannabis is ground and left in the dew overnight. Both eyes of the  patient are to be washed with it in the morning.” Could this have been an effective early THCA therapy? 

The Ebers Papyri | This remarkable collection of papyrus scrolls is the world’s oldest complete medical book. Written around 1500 BC, it describes its era’s most popular medicinal remedies. The Ebers Papyri gets its name from botanist George Ebers, who obtained it in the late 1800s. Like many others in his field, Ebers was understandably interested in gleaning whatever he could from the ancients. And with 700 medical and magical formulas spanning 110 pages, it seems there’s a lot to glean. 

A formula for feminine health is as follows: 

Formula No. 821: Shemshemet (i.e., cannabis) was to be “ground in honey; introduced into her vagina to cool the uterus and eliminate its heat.”

Another cannabis-based formula for “a painful finger or toe” is effective enough that physicians are instructed to encourage their patients — “you must say to this patient: ‘A problem that I can treat’.”

Formula No. 821: “honey: 1/4; ochre 1/64; cannabis: 1/32; hedjou resin: 1/32, ibou plant: 1/32. Prepare as for the preceding, and dress [the affected area] with it.”

The Berlin Papyri | This slightly newer scroll (circa ~1,300 BCE) points towards the evolution of cannabis as medicine. It wasn’t just good for eye problems, feminine issues, or inflamed extremities — cannabis could be used to treat fever and inflammation too. 

The papyri’s 81st formula shows that cannabis was prescribed as an “ointment to prepare for driving away the fever.” Today, modern medicine has made these same anti-fever, anti-inflammatory qualities abundantly clear. 

The Chester Beatty Papyri | Also written around 1,300 BC is the Chester Beatty papyri. This artifact is geared mostly towards treating colorectal diseases. It likely mentions shemshemet at least twice and prescribes the plant’s crushed seeds as a valuable cure. There are even instructions on the use of cannabis suppositories for digestive purposes.  

Overall, examples of cannabis use within the papyri records are somewhat sparse. But the ones that are present are also very telling. As Dr. Ethan Russo quotes in a 2007 publication in the Journal of Chemistry and Biodiversity, “as a drug, it [cannabis] has remained in active use ever since pharaonic times. It does not appear very often in the medical papyri, but it was administered by mouth, rectum, vagina, bandaged to the skin, applied to the eyes and by fumigation.”

Cannabis for the Pharaohs, Cannabis for All

Egyptian pharaohs may have used cannabis for more ceremonial purposes, too. The remains of Ramses the Great (Pharao in 1213 BCE) contain traces of cannabis, as do the remains of other mummified Egyptians. In the 1990s a series of studies from NerlicheParsche, and Balabanova reported this surprising find. Nerliche’s study noted that mummies had a significant deposition of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and concluded that this was likely obtained through cannabis smoke. As you might imagine, these studies were very controversial when they first came out. 

As time went on Egyptian use of medical cannabis continued to develop. By around 1,000 BC, it seems as though even Egypt’s common people had caught on to the plant’s potential benefits. Unfortunately, though, there is relatively less historical data on cannabis use during this time period. 

Could the ancient Egyptian’s understanding of cannabis have trickled down to adeptness in other areas related to health and the body? Perhaps. In his epic work The Odyssey, Homer notes that “everyone in Egypt is a skilled Physician”. Everyone, in this case, even included women — which was a very rare allowance in those times. Indeed, some of Egypt’s first doctors were women prized for their caregiving; other women were skilled as midwives. 

A final papyrus-written record surfaced around 200 AD: the Vienna Papyri. This one appears to mention cannabis as a treatment for tumors, ear pain, and fevers. In some instances, the Vienna papyri recommend using acacia and cannabis in conjunction. Though not truly ancient, this one distills down information gathered from prior time periods. 

Translation difficulties make coming to a full knowledge of the Egyptian’s medical cannabis use challenging, though researchers like Dr. Greg Gerdeman agree that ancient mentions of shemshemet most definitely refer to cannabis. What can be said with full confidence is that the ancient Egyptians were leaders in the medical world of their era — and they attained this leadership through devotion to medicinal plants like cannabis. 

It’s likely that practical lessons can be learned from their devotion, too.  Perhaps Dr. Russo’s review said it best: “information gleaned from the history of cannabis administration in its various forms may provide useful points of departure for research.” In the future, the wisdom of the ancient Egyptians may truly come full circle. 

Read the original Article on The Cannigma.

Holy Smokes! Meet The Nuns Who Grow Weed

Holy Smokes! Meet The Nuns Who Grow Weed

Article by Marian Venini, originally published on El Planteo.

Although they do not belong to any religious order, the Sisters of the Valley’s devotion is unquestionable. Also known as the “Weed Nuns”, these women are dedicated to growing cannabis and selling medicinal products derived from it.

Based in Merced (which means “mercy”, by the way), California, the organization has been working since 2015 and composed by women of all ages with a very clear goal: to share the medicinal benefits of cannabis and achieve its legalization. In addition, their end is to fight a medical system that has historically oppressed holistic medicine.

All their products are CBD based. CBD, unlike THC, is non-psychoactive so it has no effect on the mind, but it is a powerful pain reliever and myorelaxant. In recent years, crucial research has been conducted regarding the use of CBD to treat many conditions, such as epilepsy, cancer, arthritis, stress and depression, among others.

The Sisters of the Valley strictly abide by lunar cycles for their work, as they believe this increases the healing powers of the plant. According to them, the two weeks following the new moon are ideal for medicinal development. In fact, they even sell cheaper products that they have not been able to create within the corresponding cycle. Their products include oils, soaps, balms, topicals, tinctures, and more.

Not being nuns in the strict sense, they do not take Catholic vows, but they do have some of their own. Not to a religion or a god, but to a particular lifestyle. They are committed to providing services to suffering people, to living simply, and to respecting nature and moon cycles. They also include a vow of chastity, but clarify that this does not necessarily imply celibacy.

One of their most important pledges is the activism vow: the Sisters commit to spending several hours a week fighting for progressive causes in their communities. These causes are not limited to those related to marijuana; the Sisters also lend their voice to feminist and social equality struggles, among others.

This is not at all surprising considering that the organization’s founder, Sister Kate, has been an activist for a decade. In 2011, the United States Department of Agriculture responded to Michelle Obama’s concerns about children’s health by declaring that pizza sauce could be considered a vegetable. Then, Christine Meeusen declared that “if pizza is a vegetable, then I am a nun”, and began to dress as such when assisting protests. She was part of the Occupy Movement in 2011 and earned the nickname “Sister Occupy.” Having left her job in the corporate world, she is now known as Sister Kate, and she continues to use the habit to emphasize her spiritual commitment to her activity. She has also stated that “we need a new kind of nun”, as the archaic model no longer works.

Sister Kate and her partner, Sister Darcy, aim to create “spiritual and honorable jobs for women.” The only requirements are a strong social and ecological commitment, and the desire to live and work as a community. After working there two years, women can choose to become Sisters and take the vows. Of the current members, only one has a background in the Catholic Church.

An Ancient Calling

Their way of life has often been compared to that of the Beguines. In fact, they were a great source of inspiration for the Weed Nuns. The Beguines were groups of Christian women that emerged in the 12th century. They engaged in charitable activities, worked independently, and owned land. They also produced literary material, took no vows and were allowed to leave the association whenever they chose to.

To the surprise of absolutely no one, their medicinal practices and their rejection of the Catholic Church caused many to be persecuted and even burned at the stake. The Sisters of the Valley cannot escape this comparison: they know that their rituals, their mission and way of life would have condemned them to fire a couple of hundred years ago. This is why they place so much emphasis on social struggles and applaud the growing cultural and gender diversity in the cannabis arena.

Photo by Shaughn and John. Follow them on Instagram.