Betrayed by her bigamist husband, who left her broke and broken, Sister Kate, then known as Christine Meeusen, took her three children and fled the home she knew for a fresh start in California. Adopting a new name, a new look of wearing nun garb and using her corporate executive skills, Sister Kate began farming and distributing cannabis to sick people in California’s Central Valley. Her story sparked the interest of award-winning filmmaker Robert Ryan who directed Breaking Habits, an 87-minute documentary that recounts the story of Sister Kate’s major life transformation that led her to a path of enlightenment through cannabis.
Breaking Habits documents the events that led Christine Meeusen, a successful business professional, to become Sister Kate, a devoted cannabis farmer. Raised in the Midwest, Sister Kate was a wife, mother and corporate executive who built a well-to-do telecommunications consulting company. While she worked, her husband of 17 years, Gary Kemphaus, was the stay-at-home-dad to their three children. Sister Kate’s company did well, eventually banking $1 million. As her success grew, Gary began secretly funneling her hard-earned money into private offshore accounts for his personal use. His actions in the end left his wife and children broke and homeless.
Ultimately, this forced Sister Kate to make the decision to leave the roles she knew of wife and business woman behind. “I was a corporate girl. I even voted for Ronald Reagan,” said Sister Kate in Breaking Habits. In 2006, Sister Kate relocated with her children to Merced, California where she endured even more family drama and eventually hit financial and emotional rock bottom.
Through compelling on-camera interviews from family members, fellow Sisters, lawyers, preachers, doctors and Merced County law enforcement, Breaking Habits weaves the tale of the struggles and triumphs Sister Kate and her team faced during their California cannabis endeavors. Giving up her old ways, Sister Kate found a new calling by farming high cannabidiol (CBD) cannabis for the sick and dying while forming the women empowerment group, Sisters of the Valley. The Sisterhood was born from a dream to heal the people, the planet and to fight for the justice of the cannabis plant.
“It was not our idea,” Sister Kate told CULTURE in a phone interview about the film. “We’ve got a serious mission and a serious thing that we are trying to tell, and we recognize, by not being silly girls, that Hollywood holds the megaphone to the world.” Although Sister Kate did not ask for all the attention, she was flattered when Ryan reached out to her about the film. “It was hard to ignore Rob because he had done some serious work so he got my attention just based on his credentials,” she continued, “Rob was very honorable.”
The official business of Sisters of the Valley began Jan. 1, 2016. The group has grown significantly since then. Sister Kate has ordained at least 20 women herself, and there are more coming, she said. International groups of Sisters of the Valley are forming in the U.K., Brazil, Sweden, Mexico and Canada, but before those women can start their own chapter, they must spend time on Sister Kate’s farm in California. Today, the original chapter of Sisters of the Valley grows high CBD cannabis that it turned into salves and oils, and they are sold to people worldwide. Sister Kate told us that they struggle to keep up with demand. “The veil is being lifted on the mystery of the plant, and we’re all very lucky to be here to see it,” she said.
“The veil is being lifted on the mystery of the plant, and we’re all very lucky to be here to see it.”
“Plant freedom is coming. It would have never happened if ‘Big Pharma’ hadn’t just so overreached in such a disgusting way,” Sister Kate said at the end of the interview about the over prescribing of medications in America. “The outrage has pushed back on the side of the plant, so in a way we should send a thank you card to ‘Big Pharma’ for being so fricking greedy for making it possible that we can get back towards nature.”
Breaking Habits is a controversial film about humble women looking to end the suffering of people and the planet through cannabis. “Pain is a very democratic thing,” Sister Kate said. “The Buddhists believe that suffering is the one thing that makes us all connect to one another [but] the weed nuns, we don’t think suffering is quite so necessary, or at least we believe that there is far more of it than there needs to be.”
“Plant freedom is coming. It would have never happened if ‘Big Pharma’ hadn’t just so overreached in such a disgusting way.”
Sister Kate hopes the film will encourage positive dialogue about the cannabis plant and how it can heal the planet, the people and women. “I hope the film sparks some intelligent conversation,” she said.
Breaking Habits Airing in 14 different cities in the U.S. on April 19 and can be preordered on Apple iTunes to view at home.