If you’ve been growing marijuana for a long time, especially when it was illegal everywhere and 60% or more of Americans believed marijuana was deadly, addictive, and a gateway drug leading to heroin, you have to laugh and celebrate now that marijuana is big time and everybody wants some.

In states where medical and/or recreational marijuana dispensaries are legal, some state and local governments declared marijuana sellers to be essential businesses that were allowed to stay open while many others, including those that sell alcohol, were closed down because of the COVID pandemic.

Anybody with a brain knows alcohol is deadly, addictive, encourages violence and traffic accidents, and is a date rape drug. But now that bars and restaurants are shut down, people have fewer social venues for consuming alcohol, and many have turned to cannabis and discovered it’s way more fun than booze and far less harmful.

My newest cannabis customer is a former wine and martini connoisseur who was on his way to becoming an alcoholic. He’s also into fitness and tennis. He said now that COVID pandemic closures have shut down all the bars, and he doesn’t like drinking alone, he’s off alcohol for the first time in years, and it feels great.

What feels even better is that he’s buying top-shelf cannabis from me, and loving it. He had given up marijuana in college, saying it made him forgetful and sloppy. Now, cannabis takes the edge off his worries about the coronavirus and the pandemic’s effects on the economy, helps him stay off alcohol, and makes him feel a lot better than alcohol ever could. He even believes it’s helping his tennis game.

On the other hand, there is one dark cloud on the marijuana horizon. Lung specialists are warning that combusting marijuana or overusing it even if you inhale via vaporizer can damage your lungs. The coronavirus that causes COVID-19 targets the lungs; weak lungs are a determinant risk factor that greatly increases the chances that COVID-19 will kill rather than just harm you.

“What happens to your airways when you smoke cannabis is it causes a degree of inflammation, very similar to bronchitis, very similar to the type of inflammation that cigarette smoking can cause,” said pulmonologist Dr. Albert Rizzo, chief medical officer of the American Lung Association.  “Now you have some airway inflammation and you get an infection on top of it. So, yes, your chance of getting more complications is there.”

Physicians and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) have already warned that the use of vape oil pens and e-cigarette devices was harming lungs and killing people long before we’d heard about coronavirus and COVID, so don’t use vape pens and the cannabis oils that go in them.

One obvious solution to these problems, as we noted in our article about combustion versus vaporization, is to use a desktop vaporizer to vape whole bud. However, medical specialists say that even using a desktop vaporizer can damage your lungs if you vaporize too frequently, use high temperatures, or if the whip you use is too short.

Apparently, although vaporized cannabis doesn’t contain the hundreds of dangerous chemicals created by combusted cannabis, when you frequently dose your lungs and respiratory tract with 380-419°F or higher heat, you damage tissue. This leads to inflammation, potential scarring, and lung infection…which raise your death risks if you get infected with coronavirus. Of course, combusting marijuana is far worse for you.

My solution for this is to use a very long whip on my amazing Arizer V-Tower vaporizer, to grow the strongest cannabis possible so I don’t need to inhale as much vapor, to use zinc-infused throat lozenges while vaporizing, and sometimes to put an ice cube in my mouth while inhaling hot vapor. As an added benefit, zinc is said to boost the immune system and make you more resistant to disease.

Another lung harm reduction method is to consume hashish. I’m making more dry sift than usual. This is the easiest form of hashish to make and consume, and we’ll do an article about it someday soon. To summarize, all you need to do to make dry sift is put overly dry buds in a dry sift box, shake the box a few minutes in low humidity conditions, then collect the resin glands that have fallen through the box screen onto the collection plate below. Dry sift is at least 50-70% stronger than whole buds, so you only need a couple of hits, and there’s little if any plant material to combust, so even if you use flame, you’re not going to do significant lung damage.

Also remember, if you ever do use flame, use matches instead of butane lighters. Inhaling butane is very bad for your lungs. And while we’re mentioning butane, avoid all dabs made with butane extraction.

Along with using hashish instead of whole bud, consider using edibles and tinctures. Those don’t harm your lungs at all, but be aware that the dosing, onset of effects and high are quite different compared to what you get when you inhale cannabis.

If you’re out of work, laid off, fired, or otherwise financially struggling, now’s the time to start or increase your marijuana growing and selling. Many cannabis consumers are wary of going to marijuana dispensaries because being around people is a coronavirus vector.

People were already wary of dispensaries because their prices are high and their buds aren’t as potent, fresh and tasty as what a skilled black market grower can grow. Other than in California and Washington, statistics for dispensary sales of marijuana show a sharp decline for March 2020.

Where did those customers go? To the black market. With demand at an all-time high, you make more money faster if you have premium marijuana ready for sale. If you don’t, you could plant autoflowering marijuana strains that will give you moderately good and sometimes killer cannabis within 8-12 weeks of planting seeds. Most autoflowering cannabis strains are feminized, so you don’t have to worry about males. I’ve been pleasantly surprised lately by autoflowering strains that are as potent and tasty, and sometimes even better, than photoperiod strains of the same type.

You could grow premium Indica and Kush photoperiod strains with 45-60 day bloom phases and harvest within 11-14 weeks of germinating seeds. If you can get some teen clones (well-rooted clones that are 12 inches tall or taller and ready for immediately flipping into flowering), you could harvest buds within 7-10 weeks, depending on the strain you grow.

I also suggest running a cannabis delivery service during the pandemic. Nobody wants to go out, so if you bring marijuana to them, they’ll be grateful and might even give you a big tip.

The bottom line is there’s never been a better time to be a marijuana grower and seller. Let’s face it, many jobs lost due to the pandemic will never come back. But there will always be a demand for marijuana, unless a deep economic Great Depression hits, in which case only the very wealthy will be able to afford it. Let’s hope things never get that bad.

One thing’s for sure, without marijuana, the team here at Growing Marijuana Perfectly would be a lot more worried and depressed. So don’t drink Corona beer or coronavirus. Grow and inhale your own buds, and say a big “F you” to the deadly virus.