Nuns grow marijuana in Mexico, embrace the power of the plant

Gathered around a grand fire, I pledged my allegiance to the sisterhood. As the full moon illuminated the surroundings with its radiant glow, I delicately draped a wimple over my head. Memories flooded my mind and I felt as though I was piecing them back together, one by one.

  • 5 months ago
  • February 12, 2024
7 min read
journalist’s notes
interview subject
Sister Camila became a member of Sisters of the Valley in 2016 and plays a pivotal role in the organization, which is dedicated to stewarding the cannabis plant and promoting plant-based medicine. In 2018, she expanded the organization’s reach by co-founding a community of the Sisters of the Valley in Mexico. In both California and Mexico, she leads efforts to produce cannabis tinctures, oils, and ointments aimed at addressing various ailments. She has an associate degree in business administration, a BA in international business and a master’s degree in economics. Her research has focused on knowledge transfer from research centers to industry and university entrepreneurship. She has collaborated in developing urban and social impact studies. For the sisterhood she conducts business consulting, import / export tasks, business administration, logistics and planning.
background information
The international organization Sisters of the Valley, founded in 2014 by Sister Kate, comprises a group of women who identify and dress as nuns. Find them on Instagram. Since its formalization in 2016, the Sisters have been instrumental in destigmatizing cannabis and advocating for its medicinal benefits. With the global cannabis industry experiencing unprecedented growth, driven mainly by legislative changes, the Sisters’ work holds significant relevance. A documentary on Sisters of the Valley offers an insightful look into their mission and impact. Watch the trailer here. For more information on the therapeutic benefits of cannabis, please visit: Cannabis and Cancer Treatment.

TIJUANA, Mexico — Breaking free from an abusive marriage, I found solace in the nurturing embrace of natural self-care practices that deeply resonated with my soul. Fueled by a newfound sense of purpose, I embarked on a pursuit to uncover the transformative power of plants.

My search led me to Sister Kate and the Sisters of the Valley. Among these extraordinary women, I heard stories that mirrored my own, forging bonds of solidarity rooted in shared activism, stewardship, and entrepreneurship. These days, I wholeheartedly embrace my role within the sisterhood to amplify the voice of cannabis activism across Mexico.

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Looking for a mentor, I found the Sisters of the Valley

Growing up in an evangelical household shaped me during my developmental years, but as I approached my thirties, challenging experiences shifted my perspective. Caught in a turbulent marriage marred by emotional and physical abuse, I found the strength to break free and embrace change.

At that time, I realized I no longer wanted to invest my energy in temporary illusions from romantic relationships. Battling depression and loneliness, I turned to self-care practices that spoke to my soul: cannabis, mushrooms, communing with nature, and the support of friends and family. 

I decided to dedicate my life to a transcendental purpose, craving a project where I could chart a different course free from the confines of conventional employment. Armed with determination and a blank canvas, I began sketching out my vision. Each moment of my journey symbolized a fresh start and filled my body with an electrifying energy.

My research eventually led me to the realm of plant work, where I discovered a deep connection to cannabis, a plant I’ve consumed for 15 years. Cannabis healed my body and mind, and I sensed an opportunity by committing myself to this remarkable plant.

While searching for information, I stumbled upon a video featuring Sister Kate, the founder of the Sisters of the Valley, and instantly recognized her as the mentor I sought. In January 2018, I emailed her, and three months later, she extended an invitation to visit their farm in Northern California. Seated before my computer screen, I let her message sink in. Deep within me, an undeniable urge arose, compelling me to seize the opportunity. I accepted her summons, marking a new chapter in my life.

Initiated into the sisterhood, memories from my life flashed through my mind

As soon as I set foot on the farm, the sun’s gentle rays illuminated my surroundings. Serene pathways meandered through lush gardens teeming with kale, spinach, and vibrant blooms while butterflies flitted through the daylight. Drifting from the abbey, a second house nestled within the green landscape, the soothing scent of lavender filled the air. There, the sisters diligently crafted their medicines.

Approaching the house, I noticed the walls adorned with photos of nuns and female religious figures. Some held joints in their hands while others did not. Overwhelmed by the surreal sight, I felt a whirlwind of emotions. Amongst the Sisters of the Valley, I met resilient women whose struggles mirrored my own. Their stories resonated deeply, echoing experiences of survival amidst sexual and physical abuse. These women found solace and healing within their sanctuary.

Connected by our shared beliefs in ecological stewardship, activism, and entrepreneurship, I felt an immediate sense of belonging. Surrounded by a wealth of knowledge, I found a purpose unlike anything I experienced before. Eagerly, I embraced the opportunity to become a part of their community. Shortly after joining, Sister Kate suggested I take the lead in expanding the group into Mexico and become the voice for Latin America. I felt immense gratitude to be a part of their mission.

Later that night, I participated in a heartfelt ceremony. Gathered around a grand fire, I pledged my allegiance to the sisterhood. As the full moon illuminated the surroundings with its radiant glow, I delicately draped a wimple over my head. Memories flooded my mind and I felt as though I was piecing them back together, one by one.

Taking vows embodies dedication: upon my return to Mexico in 2018, I led the Sisters of the Valley

Under the luminous stars, I solemnly recited my vows. The air buzzed with excitement and anticipation. As I gazed into the faces encircling the fire, I glimpsed reflections of my own journey. In each smile directed my way, I discovered strength and determination.

Taking vows embodies our dedication. We commit to advocating for our beliefs, upholding ecological principles, and minimizing our environmental footprint. The nun’s habit represents a connection to our ancestral mothers. It serves as a shield for our hair and skin during the creation of medicinal products and a symbolizes our reverence for the plant long misunderstood throughout history.

Upon my return to Mexico in 2018, I co-led the Sisters of the Valley there, gradually welcoming new sisters into our fold. We don’t adhere to any specific religion because our aim is complete inclusivity. Following ancestral traditions, we align our work and lives with the lunar cycles. The harvest ceremony, held under the full moon, commences with readings from texts bearing the teachings of the Beguine sisters. Although no specific book of the Beguines remains due to their persecution as witches, we draw inspiration from their legacy.

During the phases between the waxing and waning moons, we diligently prepare our medicines, ensuring their readiness for the arrival of the full moon. As twilight falls, our guests, which are primarily friends and local indigenous people, gather around. Amid the darkening sky, we ignite a fire, its warm glow blending with the moon’s radiance as we engage in a sacred ceremony, blessing our creations with song and unity.

Navigating complexity: Cannabis activism in Mexico

Unfortunately, in Mexico, despite legalization of medicinal cannabis, the cultivation of cannabis remains intertwined with criminal organizations. This complex reality underscores the intricacies of our activism. To shield ourselves from potential threats posed by drug traffickers and to avoid conflicts with authorities, we have chosen to maintain anonymity. This safeguards both our identities and the location of our farm.

In collaboration with professionals like Alhelí Paz, a chemist and cannabis researcher, we are committed to innovation and excellence in our craft. Together, we meticulously inspect plants and pioneer solutions to address health concerns through cannabis usage.

My aspirations, hopes, and dreams center around breaking free from the grasp of the pharmaceutical industry. Their practices have resulted in numerous issues, fatalities, and unnecessary treatments, disproportionately impacting the poor, marginalized, and those without access to alternative therapies. 

For me, the essence lies in giving voice to the silent, wise plant called cannabis which has been unfairly demonized. It’s about empowering the plant to spread its seeds throughout our nation and the planet. I see myself simply as a messenger. We stand as resistance and change. We challenge entrenched perceptions and envision a future where the benefits of marijuana are fully embraced and appreciated.

All photos courtesy of Sisters of the Valley.

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