This article was originally published on Vice
The Sisters of the Valley are not your average nuns. For one thing, they’re non-denominational. They wear the habit and prize spirituality, but they’re not affiliated with any of the churches near their home in Merced, California. Instead, they belong to a highly specialized and devout order—one dedicated to the healing power of weed.
The Sisters—who have become somewhat famous for their homemade salves, tinctures, and oils made from cannabidiol, the non-psychoactive component of cannabis—are active voices in the campaign to normalize weed. But it’s been an uphill battle: Earlier this year, a local ordinance effectively made their grow operations illegal; and in March, Etsy abruptly shut down the shop where they sold their products, temporarily shuttering their business.
None of that has stopped the Sisters. This week, they’re showing their support for the legalization of marijuana at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia. Meanwhile, Merced approved limited medical-marijuana operations this month, which paves the way for dispensaries to open in the city.
Photographer Soraya Matos recently spent a day with the Sisters at their home on the outskirts of Merced, offering a glimpse into an order where tenacity is sacred and weed is a religion.
See more of Soraya Matos’s work on her website.