One thing that's clear amid all the challenges in the cannabis industry over the past year is that some changes need to be made. With many competitors in the field and all of them claiming to offer growth, many investors have been willing to pay good money for not much else in return. But that's changed, and cannabis companies now need to offer more substance to attract investors. One way to help create that change is by putting different people in place at the top. Canopy Growth (NYSE:CGC) did that when it replaced Bruce Linton, and Tilray (NASDAQ:TLRY) has made significant changes as well. Both of the moves can pay off, and here's why.

The companies are adding some big experience into these roles

In January, Tilray announced that Michael Kruteck would become the company's new chief financial officer. Kruteck's experience as an executive at Molson Coors and CFO of Pharmaca Integrative Pharmacy will be of immense value for a company like Tilray that is in both the beverage business and healthcare. It was in December 2018 that Tilray announced it would be partnering with Anheuser Busch InBev to develop drinks for the now-legal edible cannabis market in Canada.

Tilray is also bringing on an executive from Revlon, Jon Levin, to be its chief operating officer. It's another leadership position that now has an executive with knowledge of a key industry. With various industry insights in its leadership team, Tilray looks a lot stronger and better positioned for growth in related industries. It could also help open the doors to potential merger and acquisition opportunities as well.

Sizing up a profitable step.

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Canopy Growth made a more drastic move last summer when it let Linton go. It's taken a while to name a replacement, but last month the company announced that David Klein, the CFO of Constellation Brands, would be taking over. With more than a decade of experience at the beverage specialist, Klein brings lots of relevant industry experience into the mix, which is going to be particularly important as Canopy Growth gets more involved in developing cannabis-infused beverages.

Why these moves can make a difference

Any time a company makes a change at the top, it's an opportunity for the organization to start fresh with a new direction. Canopy Growth's new CEO has the financial experience and discipline to help keep the company's focus on the bottom line, which has been a challenge in the midst of so much growth. And with Tilray hiring a CFO with some big-company experience, it too has the opportunity to make the most of that expertise to help bring its costs down.

Managing growing companies like Tilray and Canopy Growth can be challenging, especially as new expenses continue to pop up. That's where having the discipline and structure that comes with managing a larger organization and being familiar with growth can be crucial to ensuring that costs don't get out of hand.

Keeping costs down is undoubtedly a big priority for both companies, especially as their losses continue to mount. Canopy Growth incurred net losses of more than 1.9 billion Canadian dollars over just the past 12 months. Tilray's losses have been more modest, but they've consistently been north of $30 million in each of the past four quarters, with no sign of improvement.

Investors are paying more attention to profits and cash flow. While sales growth is important, they also want to know that a company is going to be able to pay its bills before investing in it. 

Key takeaways for investors

There are still some challenges ahead for Canopy Growth and Tilray, but by equipping themselves with leaders who have strong financial backgrounds with a variety of experience, they're in much better positions moving forward.

It doesn't mean that the companies will start becoming profitable next quarter, but investors should expect to at least see some evidence of more cost control, which in turn should lead to better financials. Over the long term, these moves can help make Tilray and Canopy Growth much more stable marijuana stocks to invest in.