A Sad Farewell to Two Freedom Fighters

Honoring a pair of inspiring activists who were taken from us far too soon.

On the evening of October 6, 2013, Boston marijuana activist Michael L. Malta, better known to the cannabis community as the “King of Pot,” suffered a heart attack and passed away. KOP (as his friends affectionately called him) wasn’t just one of the most positive voices for change in our movement—he was also one of the sweetest, sincerest guys you could ever hope to meet. Every September, when my wife, my colleagues and I went up to Boston for the Freedom Rally, he treated us as if we were family. In fact, KOP treated almost everyone as if they were family—with hugs, smiles, and seemingly boundless energy, generosity and goodwill for all.

Just a month earlier, in the wee hours of September 1, a beautiful young activist in Denver who went by the name of Jenny Kush was driving home from a concert with her boyfriend Jeremy when a woman coming the wrong way up the highway exit ramp collided with them—sending Jeremy to the hospital, and Jenny to that great green ganja field in the sky. The tragic irony in this case is that a woman who had devoted her life to promoting the idea that marijuana was safer than alcohol had that life taken from her by a driver who was drunk.

Jenny was a member of Mile High NORML, Moms for Marijuana and Occupy Denver, as well as a co-host of John Doe Radio on icannabisradio.com, and later the host of her own show (with Jeremy) called SexPot Radio. I was a guest on SexPot Radio once at our 2012 Denver Medical Cannabis Cup, but other than that I honestly didn’t know her all that well. Nor was I very close with Michael, though he and I shared a deep mutual affection and respect. So I won’t presume to eulogize them here—that sad duty has already been accomplished in far better fashion than I ever could: My colleague Rick Cusick wrote a touching tribute to KOP, and pot critic William Breathes penned a heartbreaking obituary on Jenny for Denver’s Westword alt-weekly website.

Memorials for both were held as well: The week after KOP’s death, his friends, family and fellow activists met on the hill known as “Mount Mary Jane” in Boston Common at 4:20 p.m. to remember him, light up in his honor and rechristen the hill as “Mount Malta.” Sadly, I couldn’t make it; nor could I attend the candlelight vigil for Jenny held September 30 on the steps of the Colorado state capitol. I did, however, lead a “moment of loudness” in Jenny’s honor onstage at our U.S. Cannabis Cup awards show in Seattle this past September (a tribute that Jeremy recreated at the vigil), and I hope to attend this year’s Boston Freedom Rally to pay similar tribute to KOP.

The saddest part of all this is that Jenny’s four children have now been orphaned. For those generous souls who might be willing to donate money toward their future, please go to fundrazr.com/campaigns/dapAc. As for me, I intend to raise money for them in a way that I believe Jenny would heartily approve of: Since (as the title of her radio show suggests) she was as passionate about sex as she was about pot, I plan to auction off my collection of pornography (approximately 69 VHS tapes, a dozen or so DVDs, and a few dozen Playboy and Penthouse mags) and donate the proceeds to her fund.

You see, I was a rather avid fan of such things in my bachelor days—but being happily married now and planning to start a family, I have little use for them any longer. So if these erotic movies and magazines can provide enjoyment to some other young stoner out there as they once did for me, and raise money for a worthy cause at the same time, that’s a win-win in my book. Plus, since many of these movies are on VHS, I’ll even throw in a VCR to watch them on, which I will personally autograph for the winning bidder. For details on how to bid, go to hightimes.com/sexpot.

Rest in power, KOP and Jenny Kush. Thank you for fighting to make the world a better place and for touching all of our lives. You won’t soon be forgotten.

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