“There must be a reason I’m not pulling this trigger” - the Boone Cutler Interview
Boone Cutler should be dead.
We would have cursed quietly over his obituary that described the torment yet another brave veteran suffered before putting his pistol to his head. There would have been twenty veteran’s obituaries that day, and twenty the next, and twenty the next.
Except Boone Cutler is very much alive. The heart that hurt so much that his barrel touched his temple more than once, pumps with a force that’s greater than yours or mine. And many, many people in the warfighter community are grateful that it does.
Boone served as a US Army paratrooper in Iraq. Returning stateside, he spent two years at Walter Reed Medical Center with a traumatic brain injury (blast wave from a mortar explosion), Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), and multiple orthopedic injuries. He’s had thirteen service-related surgeries and was prescribed “pharmaceutical stew of opiates and psych meds” that he knew were making matters worse. A deeply thoughtful and inquisitive man by nature, he’s discovered that all of his injuries are manageable using hemp-derived cannabidiol (CBD), and he is on a mission to share what he’s learned.
American Cannabis Report (ACR): It’s an honor to speak with you, Boone, and sorry for the cafeteria chili for lunch – it’s not even very hot.
Boone Cutler (BC): Don’t worry about it – it’s good chow. In the Army they told us, ‘Always eat as much chow as you can – you never know when you’ll get fed next”.
ACR: It was pretty chaotic out there on the floor (of the Los Angeles Cannabis World Conference and Business Expo at the LA Convention Center). But now that we’re sitting down, my eye is drawn to those black bracelets you’re wearing. Do you mind if I ask – were those guys friends of yours?
BC: Either they were friends, or I remember when they died. I wear them to remember their names, and remember them as people. (EDITOR’S NOTE: the bracelets include “Specialist Anthony O. Cardinal, Muskegon, MI; Specialist Sergio Gudino, Pomona, CA; Staff Sergeant Edwin H. Daza-Chicone, Diamond Bar, CA)
ACR: And those 2 tats on your forearms – they’re pretty intense.
BC: These are how I remember my priorities. On the right I got “Take The Pain”. It represents those days when it’s so bad there’s just nothing else you can do but take the pain, so you might as well accept it.
ACR: And “Send Me”?
BC: That means “Send me, I’ll take that pain.” These are part of the credo that helped create the Spartan’s Pledge.
ACR: Wait, you’re the guy who wrote the Spartan’s Pledge?
BC: Yeah, I’m the guy. It says, “I will not take my own life by my own hand until I talk to my battle buddy first. My mission is to find a mission to help my warfighter family.” But it’s not mine any more – it belongs to the entire community now. It’s spreading around the world. [NOTE: watch this video about the Spartan’s Pledge]
ACR: Did I just read about it recently …?
BC: You did. Congressman Brian Mast, who’s a wounded veteran and a friend of mine, brought The Spartan’s Pledge to the floor of the US Congress in July, and included it in the Oath of Exit Bill. All service members upon leaving the military can now make a verbal commitment to each other to reach out when they need help.
ACR: That’s huge, Boone, I hope it’s working. The veteran suicide rate in America is a disgrace.
BC: I appreciate your saying that.
ACR: I’m going to change the subject a little. When we first met at the Warfighter booth you mentioned “healing yourself”. I’d like to learn more about that.
BC: After getting back from Iraq, I was hospitalized with my TBI and PTSD, had a bunch of surgeries on my shoulder, my back – thirteen surgeries. During recovery they put me on opiates, 30 mg morphine and 70 mg of Oxy, plus other stuff. And none of it was helping at all. The drugs made me feel distorted all the time.
ACR: But by this time you were addicted?
BC: Yeah, that’s happens pretty much right away. And feeling distorted all the time on the zombie drugs… this is where a lot of our warfighters can’t take it, and take their lives. It got so bad for me, I went to my closet and got my pistol… put it right here…
ACR: Aw man… it got that bad?
BC: Several times, yeah, it was a really bad time. But when I didn’t do it, I’d think, “There must be a reason I’m not pulling this trigger.” Somewhere inside, I was realizing I needed to get off the drugs and get better. So I went and checked myself into the psych ward and refused to take the medication. I was locked in at the psych ward for 17 days.
ACR: When was this?
BC: It was about 2010. Look, lots of people think PTSD is a mental illness – it’s not. A blast wave from a mortar changes your brain in physical ways. Blows the connections apart. A brain with PTSD has been changed at the DNA level. We can talk more about all that later.
Anyway, after I got through those 17 days, I still couldn’t sleep. I… tried… EVERYTHING… just to sleep. I’d go 2-3 days or more.
ACR: That can really break you down.
BC: … and one day, some guy says “Why don’t you just smoke some pot?” I said, “Fuck you, I’m no pothead.” Couldn’t sleep that night either, so I had to go back to the guy I’d insulted…
ACR: The fuck you I’m no pothead guy…?
BC: Yeah. Lying awake for the 3rd night in a row I realized how ridiculous I was to say that. I’d already tried every sleeping drug there is... why should I have an attitude about cannabis?
ACR: And it worked?
BC: I slept 5 hours straight for the first time in 5 years. So I tried it again. And it worked again. And I was clear during the day. No side effects at all. I still have to take meds to make up for the potassium deficiency which was a side effect of the opiates. And when the potassium gets low it affects my Parkinson’s, which is another neurological side effect of the blast. And when those two happen at the same time, everything gets out of whack. Someone suggested CBD...
ACR: So you don’t need pain meds at all now?
BC: No. I only use cannabis and CBD to manage everything. To me it’s really simple: Cannabis is safer than grapes. I have absolutely no side effects.
ACR: Help us understand how you got from smoking pot to sleep, to Warfighter Organic Hemp Extracts.
BC: When my partners and I founded Warfighter Hemp, it was to share what I’ve learned about cannabis and CBD with our warfighter community. I’m the spokesperson for Warfighter Hemp because I went through the pain and can explain it all.
We have a 1,500-acre cultivation in Colorado, and we extract the CBD and make organic tinctures and other organic products from hemp. (NOTE: ACR is including links to the Warfighter website. Here’s a page of products]
ACR: 1,500 acres – that's a good-sized grow.
BC: We had to make sure patients never run out. Warfighter medicinal products are all 100% hemp-derived CBD. And we offer a range of higher strengths for people who need more relief than they can find other places. Last thing is, we price our stuff lower so our community can afford it – so we’re affordably sustainable.
ACR: That’s a really impressive cycle – how’s the business doing?
BC: We’re doubling our customer base every 45 - 60 days or so, and we've had some nice-to-have growing pains. But I’m a lousy businessman. We give away half the profits.
ACR: Uh… pardon?
BC: After everyone gets paid, we give away half the profits to the warfighter community. [NOTE: Here’s a link to the charities supported by 50% of Warfighter’s profits]
ACR: As much as I hate to argue with a guy like you, I’d have to say you’re not a bad businessman. You’re just putting people on your shoulders like you always have.
BC: Yeah, maybe.
ACR: Like the tattoo says, “Send me”?
BC: That’s what we’re all about. Ethos before Ego.