West Hollywood, California—In the ‘60s, Jim Morrison was evicted after dangling from a balcony by his fingertips. Keith Richards would regularly hurl television sets out of top-floor windows. And Robert Plant infamously shrieked, “I am a golden god!” while gazing at a billboard for Led Zeppelin’s new album Physical Graffiti. Yes, the Andaz hotel along Los Angeles’ Sunset Strip—formerly known as the “Riot House”—is steeped in debauched history.
Today the hotel, nestled behind privacy hedges, is decidedly less raucous yet still boasts remnants of its rock-and-roll past—from sculptures of guitars to oversized portraits of Hendrix, Mercury, and other legends gone by. But on a sunny spring day, guests would be forgiven for thinking the lobby’s citrus-infused water had been spiked with LSD, as their eyes fix on four nuns in habits pouring out of a silver Prius and into the former home to hell-raisers. These aren’t just any nuns, though—they’re the Sisters of the Valley, a spiritual weed-selling collective based out of Merced, California. The Sisters of the Valley specialize in cannabidiol salves and tinctures, which they move through Etsy, and would like to make it crystal clear that they are not in any way associated with Christianity.
“We do things spiritually but will not connect ourselves to any religion,” says Sister Kate, the owner and leader of Sisters of the Valley. “Religions just sell words. We want to do better than that.”
Sister Kate, 59, describes herself as a “self-declared, self-empowered anarchist-activist nun”—“anarchist” because, though she does fork over $140,000 every year to the tax man, she’s been running her business for four-and-a-half years without a permit from the county. Her story is told in thrilling detail in filmmaker Rob Ryan’s new documentary Breaking Habits, chronicling the woman formerly known as Christine Meeusen’s bogus journey from married mother of three to bullet-dodging weed nun.