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The Sisters of the Valley: A Call for Support in Times of Hardship


As members of the Sisters of the Valley, we have recently endured a series of devastating events that have significantly impacted our community and mission. A fraudulent banking attack has left us in a dire financial situation, forcing us to go public with our hardship and launch a GoFundMe campaign, pleading with our followers for just a one-dollar donation.

The purpose of our fundraising is to recover from the substantial loss for which the bank refuses to take responsibility. Instead, they are charging us $30 to $60 per day for every day the account remains in arrears. It’s been over twenty days now, and the burden continues to grow.

We had only reached 10% of our fundraising goal when GoFundMe paused our campaign. Despite operating for ten years and holding licenses under the jurisdiction of the California Food and Drug Administration for three years, we are still unfairly treated as if our non-psychotropic salves and tinctures are street narcotics.

This is one of the ripple effects of no safe banking for the hemp and CBD industries. All the major commerce platforms hide behind the grey areas to discriminate against small businesses, women-owned and minority-owned businesses. They know what we are doing is not narcotics. They know we should have the right to do business. They know we have our licenses and pay all our taxes. But just the same, they choose to work against us. They choose to make it hard for the little guys, while they roll over for the big guys. From our perspective, they’ve all chosen the latter. There is no evidence of trying to understand, explained Sister Kate.

The lack of safe banking creates an environment where laws, or the lack of them, are used against us, similar to how Jim Crow laws oppressed Black people. This system of suppression is effective and deeply ingrained.

Earlier this year, in our ninth year of doing business, we were thrilled to finally begin advertising on Facebook. However, the celebrations were short-lived as Facebook can’t seem to decide if they will allow us to advertise or not. After taking over $1,200 from us, they started blocking our advertisements again and pausing our advertising rights. It’s in appeal. “Facebook can’t decide if we can buy their advertising or not; they can’t fully decide if we are narcotics dealers or not,” said Sister Halla.

Another agency taking advantage of our situation is the IRS, which is holding funds that could cover the GoFundMe campaign twice over. They continue to withhold the funds for a series of bogus reasons, introducing new ones as the old reasons get proven false. Despite involving a Senator’s office, nothing has changed. We completed the paperwork in the fall of 2022, and our payroll service provider filed with the IRS in February 2023.

GoFundMe won’t let us raise money to cover the stolen funds. The bank won’t help or take responsibility for clearing a bad check that started this catastrophic fall. Facebook starts and stops our advertising, without a clear decision. The IRS is withholding funds worth three months of sales and enough to settle all pressing debts.

What is the lesson here? Maybe everything analysts said is true:

  1. You can’t have a manufacturing business in America that will make money. All manufacturing has to be done in third-world countries with exploited labor to be profitable. If you want to run a business in America, it has to be a service industry.
  2. Safe banking will not come to our industry in my lifetime. Fair playing field standards are not in the scopes of any legislature. They have no interest if all the small businesses kill themselves trying because, in the end, big pharma and large corporations will benefit.

What are the other factors that exasperate the situation?

  1. We qualified for and received pandemic help and drought relief funds from the State of California. The government entities recognized we aren’t narcotics until the recent withholding of the ERTC funds. Is the IRS like Facebook, waffling?
  2. ETSY, Google, Pinterest, and occasionally Facebook/Meta refuse to let us advertise, even though we hold valid state licenses.
  3. We still haven’t broken the dispensary blockade, preventing our products from reaching stores where people are most likely to seek them.

In our attempts to break into the service industry to supplement our manufacturing, we have failed at hosting or guest services, before we got started. We have had some success with gigs like teaching events or speaking engagements, but these are not sustainable month over month.

We find ourselves in a place we never thought we would be—begging for funds. We are blocked from services and platforms. If we wanted restrictions, we could have become Catholic nuns.

The big players continue to label us as narcotics dealers, even though we are humble farm women who just want to make our homemade medicines by the cycles of the moon in peace and sell them in a fair market environment.

We don’t need GoFundMe to accept donations. You can support us directly through the donation link at the bottom of our store’s landing page:

If we could see an economic resurgence that brings back our pre-pandemic customer base, if the IRS would release our funds, if bankers stood up for our industry, if dispensary owners acknowledged our state licenses, if giant platforms let us advertise—if any of these things happened, we would feel less like 18th-century nuns serving the priests.  And we wouldn’t have to ask.

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