Despite the federal government’s crusade against cannabis, the tides in the United States are drastically changing for marijuana law.  According to an October 2016 Gallup poll, 60% of Americans approve the legal use of marijuana, representing cannabis’ highest approval rating in 47 years.

The November 2016 election was historic for the cannabis industry.  The recreational use of marijuana was legalized in California, Maine,
Massachusetts, and Nevada and the medicinal use of marijuana was legalized in Arkansas, Florida, Montana, and North Dakota.  Today, 28 states plus the District of Colombia have legalized marijuana entirely or exclusively for medical purposes, and that doesn’t include the numerous other states that have laws that restrict use to CBD, the non-psychoactive cannabinoid, only.

One of the major incentives to legalize marijuana has been economic.  Arcview Market Research Group, a consulting firm specializing in marijuana business, indicates that in 2016, the marijuana industry generated $6.9 billion.  Arcview predicts that by 2021, that number could increase to almost $22 billion.

That revenue has proven to be extremely beneficial for those progressive states that have taken the legalized route.  According to a Tax Foundation report, the cannabis industry could generate $28 billion in taxes based on its current trend.  If the federal government rescheduled cannabis and cashed in on the industry, it could amass between $500 million and $5.3 billion in tax revenue each year according to the same report.

Unlike Trump’s wall, it’s not like all this money has or will appear out of a conjuration of words like tremendous, believe me, or America first

This productivity is a result of the risk and hard work of the cannabis companies responding to a buzzing new market.

Viridian Capital Advisors, a financial advisory firm comprised by Wall Street analysts and bankers, keeps a Cannabis Stock Index that monitors 50 publicly traded marijuana companies meeting three out of four of these criteria: filed financials on time in the last 6 months, float at least 25% of shares outstanding, maintain an average daily trending volume of at least $20,000, and maintain market capitalization of at least $10 million.

Viridian divides stock performance into 12 different sectors: Agriculture Technology, Biotech/Pharma, Consulting Services, Consumption Devices, Cultivation and Retail, Hemp, Investments/M&A (Holding Companies), largest cannabis companies Infused Products and Extracts, Miscellaneous Ancillary, Physical Security, Real Estate, and Software/Media.  These categories are divided into companies that provide accessory services and those that actually “touch the plant.”

The following list is comprised of December 2016 data collected by Viridian on the ten largest North American cannabis companies.

Cara Therapeutics

Market cap: $251 million

Cara Therapeutics, a pharmaceutical company, works to develop and commercialize chemical therapies meant to manage acute pain, chronic pain, and pruritus (itching) in a way that avoids the many side effects associated with current treatments.

Arena Pharmaceuticals

Market cap: $340.6 million

Arena is a pharmaceutical company focused on researching, developing, and commercializing therapeutic products meant to alleviate conditions such as ulcerative colitis, irritable bowel syndrome, pydoerma gangrenosum, primary biliary cholangitis, pulmonary arterial hypertension, Crohn’s pain, REM sleep behavior disorder, and hallucinations from dementia.

Aphria

Market cap: $373.6 million

This Canadian company is a producer of 100% greenhouse grown medical cannabis products.

Aphria grows an array of indica, sativa, and hybrid strains named after Canada’s lakes

The company also sells a variety of cannabis oils produced using CO2 extraction methods from dried cannabis flowers (not trimmings or leaves).

Corbus Pharmaceuticals Holdings

Market cap: $375.5 million

Corbus is a pharmaceutical company focused on the research and development of rare, chronic, and critical inflammatory and fibrotic disease therapies.  It’s lead drug, anabasum, is a synthetic oral drug meant to relieve chronic inflammation and fibrotic processes.

Medical Marijuana Inc.

Market cap: $380.1 million

Medical Marijuana is a pioneer in the medical marijuana industry.  In 2009, Medical Marijuana Inc, a “Company of Firsts,” became the first publicly traded cannabis company in the US.

In 2010, it became the first direct sales and network marketing company to offer marijuana products

In 2011, it became the first cannabis company to create a global CBD pipeline.  In 2012, it became the first company to deliver brands across US state lines and international borders, making CBD available across the 50 states and in dozens of countries.  The list of firsts goes on; you can take a closer look here.

Axim Biotechnologies

Market cap: $401.6 million

A pharmaceutical company, Axim prides itself in its environmentally friendly methods of researching, developing, and producing pharmaceutical, nutraceutical, and cosmetic cannabinoid-based products. Axim is currently researching and developing its patented treatment delivery system for patients with MS-induced spasticity.  Its currently tested product is chewing gum containing equal parts CBD and THC.

Aurora Cannabis

Market cap: $433.8 million

A Canadian company, Aurora Cannabislarge cannabis companies grows, produces, and distributes Canadian medical marijuana.  Aurora operates out of a 55,200 square foot facility located in the beautiful Rockies of Mountain View County.  The company boasts in its state-of-the-art technology and dedication to safe, lab tested, affordable medical cannabis products.

Insys Therapeutics

Market cap: $664.6 million

A pharmaceutical company, Insys develops cannabinoid-based drug therapies meant to improve the quality of patients’ lives

Its leading drugs include Subsys, a sublingual spray meant to alleviate pain from cancer, and a generic version of Dronabinol (THC) pills meant to reduce nausea and weight loss from chemotherapy.

Canopy Growth

Market cap: $780.6 million

As this Canadian company’s name suggests, Canopy Growth Corporation operates a large variety of brands and curated strains supported by more than half a million square feet of greenhouse and indoor growth capacity and partnering companies.  Its core cannabis brands include Tweed, Bedrocan, and Mettrum.  Canopy Growth partners with Snoop Dogg, DNA Genetics, AusCann, Indoor Harvest, and CannScience.

GW Pharmaceuticals

Market cap: $2.87 billion

The mammoth pharmaceutical operation, GW, is by far the largest cannabis company on the market today.  Founded in 1998, this company is a world leader in the development of cannabinoid-based treatments.  GW’s most well known cannabis-based drug, Sativex, has been approved all over the world for the treatment of Multiple Sclerosis induced spasticity.

Epidioloex (CBD), its current lead drug, is used to treat rare forms of drug-resistant epilepsy syndromes

GW operates out of the United States and the United Kingdom.

Dianna Benjamin

About the author: Dianna Benjamin is a freelance writer, teacher, wife, and mom horrified and fascinated by social justice and our inability--yet constant pursuit--to get it right.