It may have taken a lot longer than industry enthusiasts and investors would have liked, but the marijuana industry is now a legitimate business model. In a relatively short time frame, we saw Canada legalize recreational weed, Mexico green-light medical marijuana, and additional U.S. states legalize cannabis in some capacity. Today, two-thirds of all states have OK'd its use in some form.
With the industry now validated, attention has turned to just how big of an investment opportunity this could be. Although estimates vary by source, this is an industry capable of more than $31 billion in worldwide sales by 2022, which would be well more than triple what was sold (legally) in 2017. With this many dollars to go around, and some aggressive growth forecasts calling for the pot industry to eclipse global soda sales by 2030, there are clearly going to be some big winners in this space.
Highlighting the top-producing marijuana stocks in Canada
However, everything in the cannabis space begins with growers. Canada, which is leading the cannabis space at the moment by virtue of being the only industrialized country to have legalized recreational weed, has issued more than four dozen cultivation licenses to date, many of which are to unique growing companies. In total, 11 of these pot growers look to be on pace for more than 100,000 kilograms of peak annual production, once they're running on all cylinders.
In some instances, it's very easy to ascertain how much these growers are on track to produce, because their management teams have been forthcoming with estimates. In other instances, some inference and imagination is required. With this in mind, and understanding that the industry is still incredibly fluid, the following 11 Canadian growers look to lead the industry in peak yearly production.
1. Aurora Cannabis: around 700,000 kilos
The kingpin of all producers looks to be Aurora Cannabis (NYSE:ACB), although management is currently calling for a relatively tame output of "in excess of 500,000 kilograms." The thing is, Aurora Cannabis was calling for 570,000 kilos before its acquisition of ICC Labs in South America for $264 million Canadian late last year. ICC had more than 1.1 million square feet of greenhouses under construction that Aurora will now complete. And since Aurora has a knack for squeezing above-average yields out of its available square footage, hitting around 700,000 kilos annually in peak output seems like a solid estimate. Understandably, Aurora still has a lot of construction to complete, but it should be sitting pretty in the production department by 2021.
2. Canopy Growth: around 525,000 kilos
Canopy Growth (NYSE:CGC) may be the largest pot stock in the world by market cap, but it's incredibly secretive when it comes to peak outputs or even yields per square foot. Canopy Growth is currently targeting 5.6 million square feet in total grow space, with more than 4.3 million square feet already licensed for cultivation by Health Canada. The remainder should be licensed sometime this year, laying the groundwork for a very quick ramp-up for Canopy Growth. Keeping in mind that this doesn't factor in Canopy's other revenue producing businesses (e.g., hemp production and processing), it looks to be on track for between 500,000 and 550,000 kilos a year at its peak.
3. Aphria: 255,000 kilos
Once in a while we get lucky and a company tells us exactly what to expect, which is precisely was Aphria (NYSE:APHA) has done. The embattled grower, which found itself at the center of short-side accusations in December, is potentially a top-three producer in Canada, with 255,000 kilos in projected peak output. Most of that amount will come from its organic, four-phase Aphria One project (100,000 kilos), and its joint venture with Double Diamond Farms known as Aphria Diamond (120,000 kilos). Both projects were marked for completion earlier this year, meaning Aphria should be ready to ramp up output in the quarters to come.
4. Tilray: north of 200,000 kilos
When it comes to Tilray (NASDAQ:TLRY), a lot of imagination is necessary, because the company, like Canopy, doesn't discuss its peak production potential. Rather, what we do now is that, according to its S-1 prospectus filing in June 2018, it was on track to have just over 850,000 square feet of growing space by the end of calendar year 2018. That would give Tilray around 80,000 kilos in annual output. But Tilray is sitting on close to 3 million square feet of available land about which it's given no exact indication how it'll parse it out between grow sites, processing, and medical research. My suspicion is that Tilray will target at least 200,000 kilos in peak annual yield, but it may use acquisitions to help reach this figure.
5. The Green Organic Dutchman: 195,000 kilos
Although it's a name you probably don't hear a lot about, The Green Organic Dutchman (NASDAQOTH:TGODF) may wind up being Canada's fifth largest producer -- or fourth, depending on Tilray. Somewhat late to the game in terms of generating sales, The Green Organic Dutchman is relying heavily on its Quebec-based Valleyfield property for 102,000 kilos of dried flower production and is also leaning on an additional 287,245-square-foot facility on its Valleyfield property that'll be responsible for developing and producing edibles and cannabis-infused beverages.
6. Aleafia Health: 138,000 kilos
But if you want to talk about pot stocks that investors have never heard of before, let me introduce you to Aleafia Health (NASDAQOTH:ALEAF) and Emblem. Aleafia Health is in the process of merging with Emblem, and assuming the combination receives shareholder and regulatory approval, Aleafia's 98,000 kilos and Emblem's 40,000 kilos would lead to a company capable of 138,000 kilos of production. What makes this merger unique, aside from the fact that most folks probably haven't heard of either company before, is that these companies first and foremost operate medical clinics, meaning they're likely to have a very loyal customer base for their top-tier production.
7. Cronos Group: around 120,000 kilos
You'd probably think Cronos Group (NASDAQ:CRON) is the greatest thing since sliced bread, given that it's doubled since early December. But it's only on track to be Canada's seventh largest grower by annual output. Most of Cronos Group's production will come from its joint venture known as Cronos GrowCo (70,000 kilos), with Peace Naturals kicking in 40,000 kilos at its peak. The wild card for Cronos will be how much cannabinoid production it can expect following a partnership with Ginkgo Bioworks that'll cost it up to $100 million.
8. OrganiGram Holdings: 113,000 kilos
The only Atlantic-based grower on this list is OrganiGram Holdings (NASDAQOTH:OGRMF), but thanks to its three-tiered growing system in Moncton, New Brunswick, it has the highest yield per square foot of any of the growers on this list. OrganiGram's Moncton campus, which won't be fully complete until sometime this fall, will span about 490,000 square feet, but will produce an impressive 113,000 kilograms per year, according to management. OrganiGram might be based outside traditional growing zones, but investors would be wise not to forget about this company.
9. HEXO: 108,000 kilos
Another grower expected to come in with a six-figure annual yield at its peak is HEXO (NYSEMKT:HEXO). You probably know HEXO best for having struck a joint venture with Molson Coors Brewing last August. But what you might now know is that the company's 1 million-square-foot expansion in Gatineau, Quebec, should lift annual peak production above the 100,000-kilo mark. That's important, because HEXO will supply Quebec with 200,000 kilos of aggregate marijuana over the next five years, making it the clear-cut top supplier in the province.
10. CannTrust Holdings: north of 100,000 kilos
CannTrust Holdings (NYSE:CTST), which has a keen focus on hydroponic grow farms -- i.e., sites that grow plants in a nutrient-rich water solution, as opposed to soil -- recently cleared up a permitting stalemate between it and the town of Pelham in Ontario over an expansion to its Niagara greenhouse. With 450,000 square feet already completed and utilizing its perpetual harvesting system, CannTrust was given the green light to expand capacity by another 390,000 square feet. Between Niagara, the 60,000-square-foot Vaughan facility, and perhaps some smaller acquisitions, CannTrust's management is targeting more than 100,000 kilos of annual output within the next year or two.
11. Emerald Health Therapeutics: north of 100,000 kilos
Last, but certainly not least, is Emerald Health Therapeutics (NASDAQOTH:EMHTF). Emerald Health and Village Farms International formed a joint venture in 2017 called Pure Sunfarms. This joint venture will see just over 1 million square feet of existing greenhouses that Village Farms had been using for vegetable production retrofitted for cannabis growing. This square footage should yield at least 75,000 kilos, with the acquisition of Agro-Biotech and other organic projects in British Columbia helping to push Emerald Health slightly above the 100,000-kilo mark per year.
As always, expect this list to remain dynamic. But for the time being, these are you top-tier marijuana growing stocks in Canada.