photo by getty / smileitsmccheeze , illustrations by jenny zych

Remember back before legalization? When buying weed used to be such an illegal chore? Sometimes the dealer answered your texts, sometimes not. Usually they had plentiful stock, but sometimes you would catch them on a busy day when they were fresh out of pot. You’d have to set up a time to visit your dealer’s terrifying mess of an apartment—or, worse, at some random public place where you’d both try to look like normal, law-abiding citizens. If you were lucky, you’d shell out $20 for two grams of dubiously sourced weed.

Just shameful.

If your dealer was “good,” he’d smoke you out, maybe even telling you what strain you’re smoking just in case you were curious. If your dealer was not so good, he’d hit on you and try to use his secret weed business as a bi-weekly opportunity to try getting into your pants.

So when I moved to Seattle just in time to see the first recreational weed shops open, it was almost a dream come true. Although the weed shops were still getting their shit together, you could, in desperate times—say, if a dealer was unreliable (or in Seattle’s case, inappropriate)—just go on down to the nearest one and pay a bit more for the fancy government-regulated stuff. I was so excited that I even saved the proof of my first legal weed purchase.

Even so, Washington’s legal recreational weed had price tags that were flat-out ridiculous. I often chose to tolerate all my creepy weed connects in the black market to avoid paying stupid prices plus tax.

A couple of years ago—this is still while I was living in Seattle—I was walking with some friends through Cal Anderson Park in Capitol Hill, where some friendly dude was walking around handing out blunts and nugs to those who looked like they would partake. Since my group was clearly already trying to get high, we all sparked up a joint together. He handed us another giant nugget, and then disappeared into the park. I had also heard a legend (from my roommate at the time) about a self-described “weed fairy” who left roughly a pound of bud and a note nailed to one of the park’s bulletin boards in good faith that people would share—like a big bowl of candy left on the porch on Halloween. To this day I still wonder if it’s the same fairy, or a different one.

When I returned to my home state of Oregon, it was almost time for our stores to open. It didn’t take nearly as long as it did in Seattle for legal cannabis to drop to a reasonable price, or for dispensaries to start rolling out all those punchcards and “free joint with purchase” coupons. And while that’s all good and dandy, there are some Oregon weed fairies who I keep especially close to my heart because they supplement my stash without me having to ask. I barely have to buy weed anymore.

There are the friends who bring me handfuls of their uncle’s homegrown herb in exchange for letting them sleep on my couch; the out-of-town visitors who celebrate 4/20 by giving out mini-mason jars of bud wrapped neatly with ribbon; the professional contacts who work in the weed industry and want to show me their appreciation by gifting me batches of vape-oil pens and cartridges; the coworkers who leave THC-infused chocolate in my desk drawer; and family members with medical cards who always seem to be in a really laidback, sharing mood.

All of these people have made it so I very rarely have to re-up. Nowadays I mostly just go to the dispensaries to buy a gram to diversify my home bud selection, or snatch a few cheap one-gram joints from Nectar on Fridays.

There are also the unintentional weed fairies that do society a service by accidentally dropping their tested, regulated, excessively packaged cannabis products in the middle of the street, so that I may stumble across them and assume possession. One evening a couple of weeks ago, I was walking through Old Town on my way to the Star Theater. I literally tripped over one of those heinous childproof bags (let’s be honest, they’re adult-proof, too) that the dispensaries are now required to give you and are supposed to conceal your no-longer-criminal substances from the eyes and hands of children.

At first, I assumed the bag was empty—why else would it be on the ground!? After about 60 seconds of trying to open that damn super-safe ziplock, I finally got it open. I peered into the thing to see yet another package (SERIOUSLY, HOW MUCH PLASTIC PACKAGING DO WE NEED FOR MOTHER NATURE’S MEDICINE?). The smaller package read “coconut oil CBD sticks,” and I shrieked with pure joy. I pocketed the four coconut sticks and now I like putting them in my tea when I’m hungover or menstruating.

Our new cannabis industry is pretty great, but I have to say I sure do like how often I’m getting high or medicated for free. And because Oregon already has so much high-quality weed—it’s also the cheapest in the nation—it makes sense that many enthusiastic stoners are making it their business to sprinkle this superb herb around like fairy dust. Especially since we no longer have anything to hide. Despite Trump and Sessions’ worst intentions, it’s perfectly legal for us to possess cannabis. So by all means, have it, leave it, share it, take it. And after years of enduring uncomfortable sketchiness in the black market, it makes me appreciate the Good Samaritan weed fairies of today. Hell, I might even find my inner weed fairy and pay it forward this 4/20. Keep your heart open and your eyes peeled.