Weed Pens Demystified: What Is It Exactly?

Weed Pens Demystified: All You Need to Know to Get Started

This article is part of our Best Dispensaries in Utah series, sponsored by Cannabist.

Truth be told, it’s hard to keep up with all the modern-day methods for getting high. From smoking out of whatever was accessible, such as apples, in middle school to acquiring high-tech smoke-free vapes–with so many types of smoking devices on the market, how can one know the right option for them? If you prefer something relatively odorless, portable, and pure, weed pens might be up your alley. A weed pen is yet another vehicle that heats cannabis that you inhale to get a proper buzz, and it is both affordable and effective.

A weed pen is sleek and portable. Although pictured here with flower, a weed pen is actually loaded with liquid, not buds.

What is a Weed Pen?

So let’s address the question–what is a weed pen? Weed pens are hand-held inhaling mechanisms that allow you to vaporize cannabis to get stoned. When the heating element within a weed pen is activated, the cannabis extract turns to vapor, giving you an excellent, clean high. Unlike smoking a joint or bong, you inhale the vapor instead of the smoke. Some consider it to be a healthier option.

Weed pens have risen in popularity due to their sleek and incognito nature. They are highly portable–small enough to fit in your purse, pocket, or wallet–and they are relatively smell-proof. Not to mention, they require less cleanup and maintenance than their weed inhalation counterparts, such as chillums, pipes, bubblers, and bongs. Think of a weed pen as a joint without the prep or cleanup, where nothing goes to waste. 

Types of Weed Pens

Answering the question “What is a weed pen” cannot be complete without describing the different types of available weed pens. Some are better for portability; some are better for the environment–what weed pen is right for you all depends on your preferences and what goal you’re trying to achieve. Let’s run through your options and address the conveniences and drawbacks of each type.

Disposable Pens

Disposable pens, as the name indicates, are fit for those who generally don’t smoke that often or don’t want to carry around a charger and juice in addition to their pen. This option is the easiest and cheapest among weed pen varieties, though it isn’t very eco-friendly–it will run out of juice and battery and in a short time span must be discarded. It is equipped with a pre-charged battery and already loaded with a specific type of cannabis oil, often without an activation button–ready to use by simply inhaling. 

Disposable pens are user-friendly, compact, and convenient; you’ll never have to clean it or take the device apart. That said, you can’t swap out flavors or change the potency. Sure, they are cheaper, but they are also less versatile. When it comes to appearance, there isn’t really much variety, either. To summarize, a disposable pen is great for a few uses, but little choice is involved. Once they run out of juice or battery, they are done for good. If you’re traveling, this might be the best choice, but if you’re an environmentalist, you’re better off with a reusable weed pen.

Cartridge-Based Pens

What is a weed pen guide without going over cartridge-based pens? Cartridge-based pens are an upgrade from disposable pens because of their durability, consistency, versatility, and potency. Cartridge-based pens offer the same strength and flavor through and through, and last longer than disposable pens. Glass cartridge-based pens are typically less slim–either wider and cylindrical or shorter and boxier than disposable pens, sometimes resembling the shape and size of a marker.  The battery is reusable, but you must replace the cartridge once it is out. 

Cartridge-based pens can contain twice or even three times the amount of THC content than dried flowers, weighing it at around 70-95% THC, opposed to around 30% you might find with the marijuana plant. Like with bud, you can select from strain-specific cartridges such as Indica, Sativa, or a hybrid. 

In terms of cost, cartridge-based pens prevail if you plan to use it repeatedly over an extended period of time. The actual cartridge ranges anywhere from $20-40, with the base–the pen–starting around $50. The batteries, depending on which pen you decide on, range from $10-20. After a while, all will need to be replaced. The standard 510 thread will fit on any standard 510 threaded battery, meaning most batteries and cartridges are interchangeable. However, only some cartridge sizes are universal.

Like most technology, your pen might stop operating correctly arbitrarily. Faulty electronics are a drawback to selecting a weed pen over traditional smoking devices, but this is an issue you may run into when using disposable pens, too. Of course, it becomes more costly to replace when purchasing a reusable pen over simply buying a new disposable pen that malfunctioned. Sometimes you might run into an issue with a no return policy, meaning if it doesn’t work, it doesn’t matter; you’re not getting your money back. Some dispensaries are more lenient than others.

One major thing to look out for when purchasing cartridges is the ingredients list; often additives or glycerin-cutting agents are used, which are considered unhealthy to inhale. Of course, countless weed cartridge producers have additive free, all natural products, but always do your research!

Refillable Pens

Refillable pens offer more freedom of choice of what you are smoking and are efficient for multiple uses. You can refill your pen numerous times and recharge the battery, which makes it the most environmentally friendly option and more flexible when it comes to what type of liquid you want to go with. Not only that, but refillable pens come in all shapes and sizes. That said, regular cleaning and maintenance are crucial, and it can be messier when putting liquid into the pen. Overall, refillable pens remain the perfect balance of cost-effectiveness and convenience, but they are larger, so keep that in mind if you are hoping to bring your pen on the go. Again, always keep an eye on the ingredients in the liquid you use for your pens!

Ok, ok. Now that we’ve established what types of weed pens are out there, it’s time to tackle the next burning question–how does a weed vaporizer work?

A weed vaporizer is different than a weed pen. A vaporizer (pictured here) uses flower, as opposed to liquid. Weed vaporizers are popular for purists who want to smoke their weed without some of the harshness.

How Weed Pens Work

Compared with other smoking devices used for consuming cannabis, weed pens are fairly simple and low maintenance. Now that you know the different types of vape pens available to you, you’re probably wondering, “what does a vape pen look like?” and “how does a weed pen work?” Understanding the anatomy of a weed pen will make its functionality more straightforward, so let’s elaborate.

The anatomy of a weed pen typically consists of 2–3 parts. You have the base–the central part of a vape pen–which includes an indicator light at the bottom, the battery, or area for a USB charging port, and an activation button unless it’s an auto-draw device. This is what you will hold in your hand. The second part of the weed pen is the heating chamber or pre filled oil cartridge, also called a dab cart or atomizer–which contains cannabis oil. The other part is a mouthpiece or drip tip–where you inhale. This area prevents oil from dripping from the cartridge to your mouth. This mouthpiece may or may not be attached to the heating chamber, or it may be able to be detachable–for sanitary purposes. To clean the pen, you must unscrew the parts.

How the cannabis oil is heated and vaporized? Well, in short, pen cartridges heat by conduction. The heating element typically consists of a ceramic coil, a wick, or a metal plate, as well as a material like cotton that is used for wicking. This heating element–aka the atomizer–receives power from the battery, generating enough heat to convert a cannabis extract into vapor. The hotter the temperature, the more harsh. Lower temperatures produce soft clouds of vapor with cleaner, tastier flavors. 

Pros and Cons of Using a Weed Pen

What it really boils down to is your preference–some prefer the high and overall smoking experience that a weed pen delivers, others like the more earthy, marijuana bud. See for yourself what the main pros and cons are, and assess whether you’d like to give weed pens a try.

Advantages of Using a Weed Pen

Have you ever burned your bud? We can all agree that the taste of burnt flower is not pleasant. With weed pens, you have precise temperature control, so you will experience the same hit rate each time you puff. Every time you take a hit, you’ll know what high to expect, which can ease your worry of getting “too high.”

Additionally, many avid weed tokers opt for pens because they are virtually odorless and deliver fewer fumes than a bong or joint, meaning they can be used discreetly. Another advantage is that they are lightweight and portable and typically come with a case that works great for travel. You get high for cheaper, and can use it whenever or wherever you want–except while or before operating a vehicle, of course. Convenient, right? The advantages of opting for a reusable pen over a disposable weed pen are reducing package waste, though some might say the batteries on weed pens are equally wasteful. 

Disadvantages of Using a Weed Pen

Reusable weed pens have a lifespan of anywhere from 2 months to up to a year, which might be considered short for some. Generally, weed pens will last around 4-6 months. Replacing cartridges can add up depending on how frequently you smoke, and a relatively minor inconvenience is that they must be charged. It’s not a huge burden, but it is something to bear in mind. 

More expensive products demand regular cleanings–unlike a joint or disposable pen you can throw away. They can also break or leak juice, which is something to consider. Perhaps opt for using a protective case, though you’ll have to dismember and reconstruct the pen each time you use it. Unlike flower–which has endless strains and options, vape pens have limited options but do have access to more synthetic flavors, in some cases. One thing to note: batteries can be finicky–the lithium-ion battery portion of the weed pen, usually rechargeable, though some have removable batteries that must be replaced.

As mentioned, oil may contain unknown additives and toxins that can lead to serious health complications. Physical Health concerns include lung damage and other respiratory issues. The Vaping Marijuana Association states that “there are more symptoms of lung damage than vaping or smoking nicotine, and it may cause worse respiratory issues than e-cigs.” In general, cannabis concentrates have been associated with lung disease, perhaps the root cause being the THC extraction process. Other health concerns include anxiety, paranoia, and distraction. 

How to Use a Weed Pen

Whether you’re a stoner or a newbie to the weed game, understanding how to vape marijuana from a pen is pretty simple. So simple, an ape could do it. A weed pen has some universal elements, but the activation button and its characteristics may vary. Some vape pens don’t require much except inhaling. For others, you press and hold a button to activate. Push-button vape pens allow you to adjust the voltage output, giving you the option for a stronger or more mild hit.

As far as assembly goes, for refillable cartridges, you’ll attach the battery to the cartridge filled with cannabis oil by screwing it clockwise. Start by removing the small rubber stopper after the bottom of the oil cartridge, then affix the cartridge on top of the battery. Be careful not to twist the cartridge too tight because this can damage the entire pen. When you are ready to get high, place the mouthpiece in your mouth, inhale, keep the vapor in your lungs for a few seconds, then exhale. The bottom will light up to indicate how long to inhale–inhale for several seconds–about 4-10. 

Your high will kick in quickly–hitting anywhere from 10-15 minutes after inhalation, and will last anywhere from under an hour to 3 hours.

As for charging your battery, a light will typically indicate where your vape pen battery stands–green for fully charged, yellow for low battery, and red when it is dead. When it is ready to be charged, assemble the USB charger on top of the battery by screwing it in, then plug it into the charger. You might have a charging cord you use that you plug into the vape instead of something you screw on and off. Word to the wise: don’t charge your pen in the car–this can cause the battery to overheat. 

Vaping cannabis is considered safer than other methods of cannabis use because it is consistent, subtle, and much harder to get too high or overdose. That said, vaping cannabis has safety concerns. In Utah, vaping is actually the only inhalation method allowed for medical consumption in Utah. Edibles and other products are considered illegal. Recreational cannabis use is still illegal in Utah, meaning you must have a medical card present if you plan to vape. Possession of less than 1 ounce is a class B misdemeanor and punishable by up to 6 months in jail as well as a fine of $1,000.

Where to Buy a Weed Pen

Any dispensary you waltz into will likely have an ample supply of weed pens. Always buy from trusted brands as they test their products and have regulations to ensure the safety of what you are ingesting. If you aren’t sure about the quality of your weed pen, don’t hesitate to ask a budtender! Be sure to read the labels and opt for products without unnecessary additives. 

Are you looking for a top-grade weed pen product with guaranteed results? Cannabist in Utah offers a fine selection of pen options with varying potencies and flavors. They sell cartridges from trusted brands meant to heal and facilitate specific ailments such as sleep, pain, or anxiety. Other pen varieties offer a smooth, clean, functional high. For your best interest, opt for scoping out your options in person and asking a local budtender what they recommend for your particular weed goals and preferences. Don’t forget–a med card is a requirement to purchase a weed pen in Utah!

Now that you know all the ins and outs about weed pens and where to buy one, it’s time to put one to the test! Hop on over to Cannabist today!

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