The Stanley brothers deliver a Realm of Caring.

Five Colorado brothers, Jon, Jordan, Joel, Jesse and Jared began breeding strains of the  cannabis sativa plant in 2009 to contain higher concentrations of CBD with lower concentrations of THC (the psychoactive ingredient in cannabis).

Their efforts gave rise to the Realm of Caring company. They’re not just breeders, growers, manufacturers or distributors — the Realm of Caring provides help with access and support for patients with intractable epilepsy, Dravet’s syndrome, and other serious conditions, as well as the parents of children who suffer with these ailments.

Many neurological illnesses are not successfully treated by pharmaceuticals and traditional medicine. Intractable seizures are so life-quality limiting and debilitating, patients become desperate for any relief.

Cannabidioil is often the answer to the problem of brain diseases and disorders. Charlotte’s Web cannabis oil is carefully cultivated,

lovingly produced under the best scientific conditions, and distributed to as many patients in need as possible.

There’s no typical profile of a homeless person. Check here.

Todd Lowe does not fit the stereotype of a person who has been homeless.

He grew up in a typical middle class home with a teacher mom and banker dad. He married and he and his wife amassed an affluent life with a nice house and cars, and plenty of money for purchases, vacations and a social life.

“When I turned 40, everything fell apart,” Lowe said. “I bear a large responsibility for it. I lost everything — my marriage, my home, my finances, my job — I had nowhere to go, and no one to turn to. So many of my family and friends abandoned me, and I was taken in by strangers.”

Lowe found a job running a coffee shop in a mostly abandoned former mill town in North Carolina. Though the town was a textile powerhouse for over a century, when the industry left, nothing remained for the people there, and the town died.

For a while after he was out of his home, Lowe slept in his car. Then he became a Macgyver of homeless people, and called upon a get-it-done ethic learned as a Marine when he outfitted the basement of the coffee shop as a makeshift apartment.


Homeless Infographic 2

“I made a bathtub out of the utility sink. I went to the hardware store and bought a shower nozzle and long tube. I found a plastic bin at a farm store that would usually serve as a water trough for animals. I washed my clothes in a five gallon bucket — that was a huge change from the $2,000 washer that had cleaned my clothes a short time before this. But my clothes still ended up clean.”

There was an upside to poverty for Lowe. “When you have a few dollars, and you only need another dollar to afford something you want, and you get it, you’re thankful. When someone would bring me lunch, so I could save my tips from the coffee shop for another day, I was thankful. Affluence can take away your gratefulness when you think your good fortune is all on you.”

When asked what is one thing an individual can do if a homeless person is in his or her path, Lowe said, “Everyone who helped me had been in a similar situation before, or was going through a tough time. I wish others would realize it’s not difficult to find yourself in a dire situation and to reach out instead of judging.”

While Lowe did not have a criminal conviction on his record, it takes very little for a criminal conviction to bar a person who is homeless from having a roof. Housing organizations are beginning to consider mitigating circumstances in deciding to award housing assistance, or to extend a lease, instead of canceling it.

Lowe reported that while he had relatives whose homes could have provided  short-term shelter for him, as they had plenty of extra space, they declined.

While the mayor of San Francisco claimed victory as 8,000 people were housed with family members willing to take them in, homeless advocate and long time executive director of the Coalition on Homelessness, Jennifer Friedenbach says it’s “ridiculous” that the program of purchasing bus tickets to reunite San Francisco’s homeless individuals with family in other locations is considered a cure for homelessness.

“Unless something new and aggressive is done, we’ll stay in a holding pattern,” Friedenbach said.

In the San Francisco neighborhoods most in need, the shelter is almost comically inadequate, Friedenbach said. “Two homeless shelters in our Mission neighborhood provide only 85 beds, and those are only for men.” There are no services for women and families in the area.

Budget cuts during the recession impacted the ability to serve the homeless, according to Friedenbach. “In a time the government should be doing more to serve the destitute, they actually do less,” she said.


Does the cure have to go down like medicine?

I’m working on a show about a lot of things, not the least of which is medical marijuana. It’s called “Elvira, the Druggist,” after St. Elvira of Spain, one of the first women in that country to earn a degree in pharmacology, who was later executed for protecting those who stood up against the tyrannical government that was then in power. If you’re interested there is more information here.

In the play, opponents of medical marijuana worry that patients who take it to alleviate the symptoms and complications from seizures, multiple sclerosis, pain, glaucoma, AIDS, mental illness, and cancer will experience a high. Explore this with me. The fear is that some pleasure might come from a plant that could provide relief from some of the most painful and debilitating conditions to affect humans?

Must medicine be — medicine? Must it be chemo and radiation that cause hair to fall out, crushing fatigue, and a weakened immune system? Must it be giant pills that cause indigestion and heartburn? Must it be a pharmacy in a bag of dozens of medications daily, which cause additional symptoms, which are alleviated by another pill, all of which costs hundreds or thousands of dollars each month, which patients often do not have because they miss a lot of work, or they cannot go to work, due to the original sickness and the sickness from the cure.

Does it sound paranoid to believe big pharma can be harmful? The pharmaceutical industry has done a lot of good, and there are miracle drugs on the market.

There are also killers. Andy Behrman, author of Electroboy, started out as a spokesman for Bristol Meyers Squibb, makers of Abilify. Behrman’s fight with BMS is covered well in this Wall Street Journal article.

Behrman experienced nearly all of the possible side effects of Abilify in his first several days of taking the drug. He made a YouTube video that went viral, cautioning against Abilify.

Abilify is a researched, FDA approved pill. Behrman stopped taking Abilify because he “didn’t want to experience the final side effect — death.”

Back to medical marijuana. THC is the ingredient in cannabis that causes a high. Medical marijuana has lowered concentrations of THC, which means it is virtually impossible to be high on the medical strains. It is difficult to find a non-biased source for breed and formula information about medical marijuana, but here, the group Safe Access Now discusses the various forms of cannabis available with pros and cons of each.

What if there was a high? What if a person with chronic seizures, with pain from cancer, with deadly depressions, with debilitating multiple sclerosis, had a pleasurable effect from the bit of THC? Does medicine always have to be something we choke down? Can there never be a positive side effect to a medicinal product? Whom is cleared to judge a patient who experiences more than the intended symptom relief? Why would it be such a bad thing?

All my creative works involve three components: the artistry, which I strive to make top-notch; the investigative and biographical studies on the historical people and the 21st century issues; and the public service part — I hope the entire audience cast and crew will get out and do something about it.

For now: what do you think of medical marijuana? Do you think making darn sure no one is getting a buzz should be the main concern?

Electroboy is a character/Andy is a guy – separating man from mania years after recovery from bipolar disorder

This past week marked a birthday of fifty-something for Andy Behrman. It wasn’t an age he thought he would reach when he was diagnosed with bipolar disorder in his twenties. In his life a continent and two decades removed from when his life matched the pace of New York, he now spends his single father days with his young daughters, Emma and Kate.

“The penne is too…penne,” Kate says, over a plate of pasta at Cheesecake Factory. A family outing in the suburbs of southern California presents a wild contrast from Andy’s birthday twenty years ago, spent in a work-release facility after he was convicted of art forgery and fraud in a New York federal court. The book, Electroboy, is approaching its thirteenth birthday and covered mostly events in the 1990s that led to upper class nice Jewish young man Andy’s criminal involvement. With the growing pains of the book’s adolescence, Andy is working with a new team on bringing the book to the big screen.

The root of his issues as a young man was bipolar disorder — a mental illness characterized by extremes of wild mania: impulsive spending, sleeplessness, hypersexuality, high energy, poor judgment, sometimes rages and uncontrollable wild behavior, and followed by a crash into depression. Before his diagnosis, Andy used the manic energy to his advantage, brokering huge public relations deals and landing a job with a major art dealership. The impulsivity built up, and he traveled along with a coworker on a scheme to forge paintings and sell them for profit. It was a great gig until it fell apart and it landed him in jail.

A few years later, the book was published by Random House to a lot of noise.

“Perhaps because i had been a promoter for years, the book became successful and there was a lot of media attention surrounding it (and oddly, glamour – – parties thrown by Tina Brown, blah, blah, blah). But finally, mental illness was being openly discussed (in a raw and gritty way – – and with a funny guy doing the talking) all the way back in 2002. And then came my anti-pharma campaign, after working as the spokesman who launched Abilify for Bristol Myers Squibb and ended in me coming clean and telling the media what i really knew (i.e. cover of the Wall Street Journal). everything since 2002 – – since Electroboy was published – – has been, in my mind, blown up in the media.”

Something as shocking — if you will — as electroshock therapy became glamorous and for a while Electroboy, with it’s bright yellow and contrast black cover, became the book everyone read on the subway and in the therapist’s office.

Andy’s need for a more relaxed lifestyle and his then-wife’s career in film development precipitated their move to laid back southern California. Soon thereafter, Kate was born, debuted in an interview at the Behrman’s home in a video produced by Stephen Fry. A year later, Emma was born. Family life had a stabilizing effect on Behrman and he had no more arrests or hospitalizations. In his divorce, he was considered the stable parent and now has full custody of Kate and Emma. Behrman continues to be a mental health advocate.