On Sunday, February 9, dearly departed cannabis activist Michael L. Malta’s daughter, Kristin Imhof, delivered a newborn baby boy, Patrick Michael Imhof, to the world. As previously memorialized in Blunt Truth, Malta, popularly known by the King of Pot moniker he trademarked, passed suddenly this past October.
For those of us who knew KOP, the birth of his grandson is yet another sign that he’s still watching over us. Before his death, he had become a beloved hero and a friend unlike any other, locally or nationally. Malta was larger than life. In his friendships, he developed a true love for those he encountered. As such, we continue to focus on him because of what he meant to all of us as individuals, and as a community of activists.
KOP’s presence was especially strong a few weeks back, when his daughter Kristin shared on Facebook that she’d asked her father to send her a sign, as she’d been having a rough time. “I have been contacting millions of churches for Patrick’s baptism,” she wrote. “Today I woke up to a reply back from St Agnes in Arlington, the last church my dad entered and the date of their baptism is 4/20!! Can’t get a better sign than that. Thank you Michael L. Malta for letting me feel like you really still are here somewhere.”
“You know Patrick Michael being born on a Sunday, we really needed this,” says to KOP’s widow, Valerie Malta. “It wasn’t the easiest birth for us … of course it’s very exciting for our family … but still sad because Michael is not truly here to see it … Yes we think maybe he is watching over. We originally thought Patrick was a girl, the first ultra sound seemed to indicate that, and then found out more recently, surprise he’s a boy, what Michael always wanted, a boy of course, Michael always gets his way. And now he’s here born early on Sunday, the day we’ve all been struggling with since Michael passed. It’s his way, yes I do think so. Hopefully as a family, we can come to celebrate our Sundays again for Patrick Michael.”
Malta’s been there for a lot of us. Personally, while on a job hunt not long after he passed, I was seeking a position closer to home and with better pay. Sitting in the interview, with a decent chance of landing the job, in walks one of the hiring managers, and it’s the lead singer of KOP’s favorite band, Planetoid. Turns out we’re both missing Malta. In the end, I was hired for being Mike Cann–not disqualified for flying my weed flag–just as KOP would have wanted.
Of course, friends abound are helping keep the KOP tradition alive in his name. For one, activist Frank Capone has called on the City of Boston to memorialize KOP with a bronze plaque on a bench near the elevated peak of Boston Common known to many as Mount Michael Malta. It’s the place where Malta helped organized 4/20 smoke-outs, and where he and I became partners in our activism. Malta worked nearby, and it was a spot that many of us would often meet him for a smoke.
The City of Boston wants $5,000 to honor our hero (apparently that’s the going rate for a bench these days). To that end, Valerie Malta and activists Red Blaza and Bobby Nuggz have stepped up with a bench fundraiser planned for Saturday, March 15th in Boston. Planetoid and Dubbest Reggae will perform live sets, and that’s just for starters. Says Nuggz: “We have sponsors for this KOP party like Area 51 Genetics, High Flyer Promotions, ReLeaf Magazine, and Vortex Water Pipes, plus vendors like GreenSide Up Gallery, FishBowl Glass, and Boston Budz showcasing their glass art.” It’s all to a purpose: “I want that fucking bench,” says Valerie Malta.
Finally, for those who maybe can’t make it, Valerie has opened an online bench collection at gofundme, while close KOP friend Chandra Batra has started an online petition to “Help the People of Massachusetts establish Real Legalization by creating and upholding The Michael L. Malta Memorial ACT,” which would get the ball rolling toward naming a state legalization initiative after Malta in two years. As of press time, more than 150 people have already signed on.
In the meantime, back on Boston Common, smoke and vape fine protests continue on the third Saturday of every month, with an underlying theme for the “non-organizers” being that Malta is in charge, as it was his spot. Ask them to point to their leader, and you’ll hear something along the lines of: “We’re here in KOP’s name.”