Canada stands at the epicenter of the fast-growing global marijuana market, and for good reason: The country's medical marijuana market is expanding. Canada is on track to legalize recreational weed later this year. It's also home to several of the largest pot growers in the world. 

Canopy Growth Corporation (NASDAQ:CGC) ranks as the biggest of them all. But Canada also has quite a few smaller marijuana growers, one notable example being Emerald Health Therapeutics (OTC:EMHT.F). These companies, big and small, will compete against each other even more intensely in the future.

But which is the better marijuana stock to buy now? Here's how Canopy Growth and Emerald Health compare.

Marijuana leaf on top of stack of $100 bills

Image source: Getty Images.

The case for Canopy Growth

Canopy Growth arguably is in the best position of any marijuana grower to capitalize on the expected surge in demand for cannabis. How? Let's start with Canopy's dominance in the Canadian medical cannabis market. In its fiscal third quarter, reported in February, the company posted all-time-high sales -- not just for Canopy, but for any Canadian marijuana grower.

The international medical marijuana market presents an even greater opportunity. Canopy Growth is in great shape to capture its share of that, as well. The company acquired MedCann in 2016 to gain a foothold in the German medical marijuana market, which should grow to over twice the size of the Canadian one.

Canopy has also expanded into other countries. It's formed partnerships and joint ventures to gain access to several markets, including Australia, Brazil, Chile, Denmark, Jamaica, and Spain.

Of course, there also is another big prize dangling before Canopy Growth: the Canadian recreational marijuana market. Canopy has been busy expanding its production capacity to meet the anticipated demand. The company also became the first cannabis grower to secure multi-year supply agreements for recreational pot with four provincial entities.

In addition, Canopy's relationship with Constellation Brands, the distributor of Corona beer and several other popular alcoholic beverages, is a big plus. Constellation bought a 9.9% stake in Canopy last year, and the two companies plan to work together to launch a cannabis-infused beer.

Put all of this together and you've got a company that should claim significant market share in all segments of the global marijuana market. That could translate to continued momentum for Canopy Growth over the next few years.

The case for Emerald Health

Emerald Health might be a lot smaller than Canopy Growth, but the company is angling for its share of the Canadian marijuana market. It took a big step toward that goal last year by forming a deal with Village Farms, which grows greenhouse tomatoes, bell peppers, and cucumbers. 

In June 2017, Emerald Health and Village Farms formed a joint venture with the goal to become a large-scale cannabis producer. Village Farms contributed a 1.1 million square foot greenhouse facility in British Columbia to this joint venture, which was named Pure Sunfarms.

Since then, the joint venture between the two companies has made significant progress. Health Canada issued a cannabis cultivation license for the British Columbia facility. Conversion of the first 250,000 square feet of the facility to cannabis production almost is complete. The joint venture's management team is in place and ready for production ramp up.

Emerald Health is also building the first 500,000 square feet of what is planned to eventually become a 1 million-square-foot greenhouse facility in the Vancouver area. The company applied for a cannabis growing license to Health Canada in October 2017.

Another joint venture involving Emerald Health also is intriguing. In January, Emerald Health and DMG Blockchain Solutions announced plans to form a joint venture to develop a supply-chain management system and e-commerce marketplace for the legal cannabis industry based on blockchain technology.

Better marijuana stock

You've probably heard the old saying that a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush. In my view, Canopy Growth is the equivalent of at least two birds in the hand, while  Emerald Health is only one bird in the bush.

Emerald Health has a lot of potential, but for now, that potential has yet to be realized. Meanwhile, Canopy Growth has an infrastructure that's well-positioned to supply the global marijuana market.

Canopy faces risks, probably the greatest of which is that demand won't be as great as some predict. However, for investors choosing between these two marijuana stocks, Canopy Growth is the better bet.

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.