by Scott Gacek (
The East Coast cannabis reform community awoke today to the devastating news of the loss of a close friend, hardworking activist, and longtime supporter, Michael L. Malta, better known as the King of Pot, or simply “KOP”.

The shocking news came in the form of a Facebook post from his daughter, and word quickly spread:

“To all family and friends in case you have or haven’t heard already my dad had passed away tonight from a massive heart attack. They worked on him for 2 hours and did everything they could but it wasn’t enough. I don’t know how I’m gonna live without my dad, there is no one in this world that can ever replace him. We appreciate everyone’s condolences, he was loved by so many people and my dad loved everyone! I apologize if we haven’t properly informed certain people but it’s just too hard to do right now and we need some time to even comprehend what has happened. I love you so much, Dad, I can’t believe you left me. I don’t know what I’m gonna do without you.”

Michael, who loved and touched so many people during his many years of activism, finally filled his heart with too much love, and his heart just couldn’t contain it anymore.

For those who never knew Michael, you have to understand, he was more than just a marijuana reform activist. He was more than just a friend. He was family to many, and he had a heart filled with so much love and kindness for those around him.

I’ve never been one to wear my heart on my sleeve, but today the tears have not stopped since hearing the news. What I write today won’t even come close to describing how amazing this man truly was, and the impact he has had on so many in New England, and in the cannabis community as a whole. That impact is evident across social media this morning, as those in the cannabis community share their stories, thoughts and love for someone who touched so many.

Here’s mine.

I first met KOP back stage at the Boston Freedom Rally many years ago, back in the days when MySpace was still relevant and Facebook was still just for college kids. We had been MySpace friends at the time, but had never met in person. Dressed as always in his leather jacket and t-shirt, rocking his trademark shades, microphone in hand, he approached me, and introduced himself with a hug.

“Scott Gacek, the man, the legend, we finally meet!” he exclaimed, as he wrapped his arms around me and his grizzly face planted a kiss on my cheek. “I’m honored to finally meet you!”

I was relatively new to activism at the time, and I remember thinking, “Me? Who the fuck am I?” I felt that I was the one who should have been honored to meet him, and I was. I had been following his videos for some time, respected his work, and like hundreds of activists I have met in the years since, I was shocked that he knew who I was.

But that was the kind of person KOP was. No matter how known, or not known, you were in the cannabis community, if you had done even the smallest thing, and he had heard about it, he wanted to meet you. He wanted to hug you. He wanted to thank you. And he wanted to call you a friend. Oh, and he always wanted to smoke a joint with you, too.

Over the years, KOP became more than just a friend. He was, and remains to this day, my closest brother. ”My brother from another mother!” he would exclaim anytime we met.

I spent many a night at his home, the castle of the King of Pot, from editing video in the Harry Potter closet office under the stairs to Thanksgiving dinner. He always lived up to his name, too, always with jars of the best bud New England had to offer, always with that fucking joint sticking out of his mouth, and always willing to share.

For the past couple years, as our lives, careers, and activism took us in separate directions, Michael and I fell out of touch. This past September, at the Boston Freedom Rally, we reconnected. Just like our first meeting, he was gave me the biggest hug and scruffy kiss on the cheek.

Despite the chaos that always is Freedom Rally weekend, we found time to catch up a bit, and on Sunday we worked together again, helping stage the impromptu “Boston Tree Party” on Mt. Mary Jane to keep the 4:20 tradition alive despite the city’s best efforts to shut down the Freedom Rally at 3 pm. As the smoke cloud cleared sometime around 5, and we realized what had just happened, KOP gave me the biggest hug.

“Just like old times man,” he said. At that moment, I realized that we had done something special, something memorable. When I woke up this morning and heard the news, I fully realized just how special that 4:20 session really was, and despite the tens of thousands of 4:20 celebrations I’ve been a part of, past and future, it will be the one I remember most, the last one with my brother.

I love you KOP, you’ll always be missed but never forgotten.