PORTLAND, Ore — (KOIN) Within the past few years, vapor pens have become an increasingly popular way for people to get their cannabis fix. Although traditional “flower,” or the part of the marijuana plant that people typically smoke, is still the most popular, pens offer a healthier, convenient alternative.

But what exactly is a vape pen? In Mainstream Weedia: Dispensary Shopping 101, an Oregon Liquor and Cannabis Commission-licensed cannabis employee explained that vape pens consist of a cartridge and a battery. The cartridge contains an oil-like concentrate and is connected to the battery, which heats up the oil that is then vaporized.

Some consider vape pens as a healthy substitute for other forms of smoking because less smoke goes into the lungs. Still, just like many other cannabis products, cartridges contain THC, the psychoactive component in the plant that causes the high.

“Now cartridges being a concentrate can have THC levels anywhere from 50% up to 90 [or] 95%, “ Nectar Market’s senior lead budtender Eva Miller Hughes said. “So they’re a lot stronger. However, it gives each hit to you in a very small dose. And so it’s still very manageable and controllable.”

Furthermore, there are two types of cartridges: full-spectrum and distillate. Full-spectrum cartridges contain the full-spectrum of cannabinoids and terpenes, whereas distillate ones are distilled and pull out certain cannabinoids. This distillation process is why some cartridges have THC percentages as high as 99%.

Headset, a cannabis data company, reported that the market share for vape pens had increased from 18.9% to 22.1% between April 2021 and 2022, just in the U.S. And these pens are even more popular against younger age groups, with Gen Z buying about twice the amount of vape pens that cannabis consumers in the Baby Boomer generation buy. The sleek look and subtle smell emitted from the pens could be part of the draw for consumers.