Many marijuana stocks have performed horribly so far in 2019. Not Innovative Industrial Properties (NYSE:IIPR) and Green Thumb Industries (OTC:GTBIF), though. While both stocks are well off their highs from earlier in the year, Innovative Industrial Properties is still up more than 80% while Green Thumb Industries is up around 12%.

Which of these two marijuana stocks is the better pick going forward? Here's how Innovative Industrial Properties (IIP) and Green Thumb Industries (GTI) stack up against each other.

Cannabis plant on top of two tiny shopping carts

Image source: Getty Images.

The case for Innovative Industrial Properties

Innovative Industrial Properties has turned into a cash-generating machine. The real estate investment trust (REIT) focuses exclusively on the U.S. cannabis industry. IIP buys properties and then leases them to medical cannabis operators with long-term leases.

The company reported revenue of $11.2 million in the third quarter, more than tripling the amount generated in the prior-year period. IIP's earnings more than quadrupled year over year to $6.2 million. Both results were better than Wall Street expectations.

There's no reason to think that IIP's growth will slow down anytime soon. The company continues to invest in more properties then immediately turns around and leases those properties. It currently owns 41 properties in 13 states, 30 of which the company has acquired in 2019.

The cannabis markets in many of these states are still only in their early stages. And IIP's current markets include six states that should claim annual legal cannabis sales of more than $1 billion within the next three years.

IIP's financial position is remarkably strong compared to most companies in the cannabis industry. The company is consistently profitable and has a nice cash stockpile of more than $318 million, including cash, cash equivalents, restricted cash, and short-term investments.

To put the icing on the cake, IIP offers an attractive dividend that currently yields 3.65%. Over the last three years, the company has increased its dividend payout by 420%.

The case for Green Thumb Industries

Green Thumb Industries is one of several customers that has benefited from real estate capital provided by IIP, with the two companies striking a deal last week to lease a Pennsylvania cannabis facility. GTI currently operates 13 cannabis manufacturing facilities and runs cannabis retail stores in 12 states.

Expect significant retail growth in the near future. GTI owns licenses for 95 retail locations throughout the U.S. but expects to have no more than 40 stores open by the end of 2019.

The company's home state of Illinois launches its recreational marijuana market in January 2020. This presents a huge opportunity for GTI, which is already expanding its production capacity in the state.

Analysts project that GTI will generate sales of $484 million in 2020. If the company achieves that consensus estimate, it will outsell every Canadian cannabis producer, including the two biggest -- Aurora Cannabis and Canopy Growth. But GTI's market cap is well below both of these Canadian companies.

While GTI should have tremendous growth prospects, there's one downside for the stock right now: a lack of profits. The company continues to spend significantly more than it makes in revenue as it expands into new markets. However, as GTI's capital expenditures taper off, the company should be able to achieve profitability.

Better marijuana stock

Both of these marijuana stocks should be winners over the long run. I think Innovative Industrial Properties is the better pick, though, for two key reasons. First, the company is already profitable. Second, IIP's dividend gives investors a nice bonus on top of the company's strong growth.

In my view, Innovative Industrial Properties continues to rank among the most attractive marijuana stocks on the market.

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.