Some stocks make money for investors slowly and steadily over a long period of time. Others do it fast-and-furious style.

Count Axim Biotechnologies (OTC:AXIM) and GW Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ:GWPH) in the latter category. These two marijuana stocks turned an initial $10,000 investment into over $130,000 in less than five years. Here's how.

Marijuana bud over money

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More and less

An initial $10,000 stake in Axim Biotechnologies made a lot more than $130,000 -- and in a lot less time. If you bought shares of the stock as recently as last October, your position would now be worth well over $600,000.

Axim benefited in large part from a tidal wave of investor enthusiasm over marijuana stocks. The company claims an interesting assortment of interests, from hemp-based chewing gum to cannabinoid dental floss to alternative energy sources derived from industrial hemp. 

The company currently markets its CanChew cannabidiol (CBD) chewing gum as a nutraceutical for "general well-being." Axim has much bigger plans for CanChew, though.

It recently announced the start of a phase 2 clinical study for CanChew Plus, which has an improved delivery system compared to the original CanChew gum, in treating irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). This study is being led by Renger Witkamp, professor and chair in nutrition and pharmacology at Wageningen University in the Netherlands. Axim is also evaluating a combination CBD/tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) chewing gum for the treatment of pain and spasticity associated with multiple sclerosis.  

Axim's focus isn't just on cannabinoid chewing gum, though. The company announced in 2016 initiation of a clinical study of a cannabigerol (CBG) ointment in treating psoriasis and eczema. This study is being conducted by Dr. Marcus Meinardi, at The Maurits Clinics in The Hague, The Netherlands.

Pace-setting cannabinoid research

If you bought $10,000 of GW Pharmaceuticals stock three years ago and held on to it, your investment would be worth over $135,000 today. There would have been some wild gyrations along the way, though. From mid-2015 to early 2016, GW stock gave up much of its gains only to roar back.

GW Pharmaceuticals' cannabinoid spray Sativex is already on the market in 16 countries outside of the U.S. for treatment of spasticity associated with multiple sclerosis. However, it's another cannabinoid product that has been the primary driving force behind GW's remarkable stock performance.

The company has enjoyed a string of good news for Epidiolex. In March of last year, GW announced positive results from a late-stage clinical study of the experimental drug in treating Dravet syndrome, a rare and severe form of epilepsy in children. A little over three months later, it reported more great results from a late-stage study of Epidiolex in treating Lennox-Gastaut syndrome (LGS), another type of epilepsy. In September, GW followed up with more positive results from a second late-stage LGS clinical study. 

GW expects to file for U.S. regulatory approval for Epidiolex by the middle of this year. It has already increased its manufacturing capacity and has begun building its commercial infrastructure for a potential launch of the drug in 2018. 

Looking ahead

Can these two marijuana stocks continue to soar? Maybe.

Axim Biotechnologies maintains that it can have a global portfolio worth $1 billion by 2020. If the company can deliver on that goal, Axim's stock has plenty of room to run. However, its most recent financial report showed a loss during the first nine months of last year of $4.6 million on revenue of less than $35,000. Let's just say Axim has a long way to go.

As for GW Pharmaceuticals, I suspect the stock will keep up its winning ways for a while. Over the long run, however, GW's fortunes depend on how well Epidiolex sells (assuming it wins approval). Peak sales estimates for Epidiolex are all over the map, from around $300 million to $3 billion. At the low end of that range, GW stock is enormously overpriced right now. At the high end of the range, the stock could increase quite a bit from where it trades now.

This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium advisory service. We’re motley! Questioning an investing thesis -- even one of our own -- helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.