Breaking Habits: documentary has nun in constant run-ins with the law

Sister Kate.
Sister Kate.

IN marijuana parlance, CBD stands for cannabidiol, a major component of the cannabis plant’s extract that’s considered to have major therapeutic benefits, including the treatment of cancer.

More commonly, it stands for central business district and it’s the juncture of the business and the extract where much of Rob Ryan’s documentary Breaking Habits takes place.

Ryan discovered the story of Sister Kate from Merced, California, in an online magazine and was entrusted to tell her story against serious media competition.

Christine Meeusenfled had been a high-flying international corporate executive with three kids and a stay-at-home husband. He allegedly stole from her and was a polygamist, leaving her destitute on the streets.

Briefly living with her brother, they decided to get into the marijuana business, which has some legal basis through individual cultivation but is mostly considered a criminal activity, which the many statements from sheriffs, law enforcement agents and pastors throughout the documentary, not to mention the frequent raids attest to.

For those of us who believe in a different approach to the control of drug use, this account of the ‘war’ will confirm all your suspicions about the gatekeepers defending the status quo.

What sets Sister Kate apart is her claim to a spiritual path and even a kind of vocation and calling, which she enthusiastically shares with a small group of fellow sisters who have answered the call.

The documentary effectively taps into one of the underlying causes of drug denial. Sister Kate employs an essentially pagan ritualism, based on the innate goodness of the natural world.

In turn, it reflects an empathy with Indigenous cultures.

Western culture has now spent centuries repudiating the spiritual practices of Indigenous peoples around the world, due to the clash with the values of colonisers.

But the earth is rising. It’s harder and harder to reject solutions staring us straight in the face.

Sister Kate seems to know where she stands in the order of things. Even as she finds herself caught in gun fights with marauding marijuana thieves, there is a stoicism and earthed poise about her.

Breaking Habits is, in turn, not particularly showy or even very interesting in its delivery.

Forget the stoners and the fog of drug haze. Sister Kate knows where there’s smoke, there’s fire.



Breaking Habits (M)

Directed by: Rob Ryan


In cinemas now

Reviewed by: Martin Turner