"Best" is a relative term. The best option between breaking your leg, your arm, or your nose still isn't a very good choice. It's not quite that bad when it comes to finding the best marijuana stocks of September, but the scenario isn't nearly as good as it's been in the past.

Of the three best marijuana stocks of last month, only one achieved a double-digit percentage gain -- 22nd Century Group (NYSEMKT:XXII). The other two best-performing pot stocks, Namaste Technologies (OTC:NXTTF) (TSXV:N) and Innovative Industrial Properties (NYSE:IIPR), delivered low single-digit percentage increases in September.

But most marijuana stocks declined quite a bit last month. How did 22nd Century Group, Namaste, and Innovative Industrial Properties buck the trend? And are these stocks good picks to buy now?

Cannabis plant and a line with an arrow at the end trending upwards

Image source: Getty Images.

1. 22nd Century Group

22nd Century Group's shares jumped 16% in September. It was the stock's second consecutive month at the top of the pack for pot stocks after it soared 46% in August.

Why is 22nd Century Group enjoying such strong momentum? It's not because of any new developments. The company didn't make any announcements at all in September. However, it seems that investors continue to be enthusiastic about 22nd Century Group's pivot to focusing more on the cannabis and hemp markets.

In the past, the company has been known more for its genetic engineering of tobacco plants with very low levels of nicotine. Although 22nd Century Group is still betting that its tobacco-related technology will pay off, new CEO Cliff Fleet said in the company's Q2 conference call in August that hemp and cannabis present "another exciting and potentially even more valuable path for growth." The company has genetic technology to grow hemp with no THC, the primary psychoactive ingredient in cannabis.

2. Namaste Technologies

Namaste Technologies stock skyrocketed more than 50% early in September. But it quickly gave up most of that gain, ending the month up 6%. That still was enough, though, to rank Namaste as the second-best-performing marijuana stock in September.

The interesting thing with Namaste is that it had more good news after the spike early last month than it did before the big jump. On Sept. 12, the company announced a distribution deal with Cultivated Beauty to market hemp-based skin care products on the CannMart online marketplace. Only four days later, Namaste reported that the BC Liquor Distribution Branch, the wholesale channel for adult-use recreational cannabis in British Columbia, had submitted a purchase order to CannMart to sell pre-rolled cannabis products online as well as at private and government-run retail stores.

Namaste also signed a new customer in late September. The company announced on Sept. 26 that CannTx Life Sciences planned to launch and sell its medical cannabis brand, Bower, on CannMart. CannMart will also process and package Bower medical cannabis products in its processing facility.

3. Innovative Industrial Properties

Innovative Industrial Properties (IIP) came in third place among marijuana stocks in September with a gain of only 4%. This reflected an improvement, though, after the cannabis-focused real estate investment trust (REIT) began the month with its shares falling nearly 5%.

September was a month of expansion for IIP. The company revised its lease agreement with Ascend Wellness Holdings (AWH) to provide another $8 million in financing for AWH to expand a medical cannabis facility in Barry, Illinois. IIP acquired four properties in California and leased them to Vertical Wellness. It also modified its lease arrangement with PharmaCann to provide another $8 million for funding expansion of a property in Holliston, Massachusetts.

One of the most important developments during September for IIP investors was that the company boosted its dividend payout by 30% from the previous quarter. IIP's dividend yield now stands at nearly 3.3%.

Are they buys?

I tend to agree with the unofficial slogan of the state of Missouri with two of these stocks: Show me. While 22nd Century Group could be successful with its efforts to market zero-THC hemp, it's not there yet. As for Namaste Technologies, the company continues to take the right steps to recover from the scandal earlier this year that caused its former CEO to be fired. But Namaste is still losing money and has a ways to go before it's profitable.

Innovative Industrial Properties, on the other hand, has shown investors that it's on the right track. The company has been consistently profitable. It's generating impressive growth. IIP also has a business model in place that should ensure that it keeps growing. With a solid dividend thrown in for good measure, I think that IIP is one of the more attractive marijuana stocks to buy right now.