For the past 15-plus months, marijuana stocks have been on a mostly precipitous downtrend. After years of (pardon the pun) flying high, growing pains finally caught up with the industry. To our north, regulatory-based supply problems created bottlenecks in select provinces and shortages in others. Meanwhile, high tax rates on legal U.S. cannabis have allowed cheaper black-market pot to thrive.

But make no mistake about it, this is a fast-growing industry that should deliver especially impressive sales figures in the United States.

A black silhouette outline of the U.S., partially filled in by cannabis baggies, rolled joints, and a scale.

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Marijuana sales in the U.S. are on track to soar

Last month, Marijuana Business Daily released its 2020 "Marijuana Business Factbook," which comes complete with cannabis sales projections between 2020 and 2024 for the United States. After generating as much as $13 billion in total weed sales in 2019, the report calls for between $15.5 billion and $18.9 billion in legal sales in 2020, and $30.2 billion to $37 billion in total sales by 2024. In other words, pot sales in the U.S. could potentially triple in just a five-year stretch.

The vast majority of this growth is likely to come from the recreational market. Although medical sales are expected to more than double to a range of $9.5 billion to $11.7 billion by 2024, it's adult-use cannabis sales that will steal the show. After generating as much as $8.1 billion in U.S. sales in 2019, recreational weed is estimated to bring in up to $25.3 billion in 2024. 

Perhaps it's not surprising then that not a single Canadian pot stock is expected to bring in $1 billion in sales (in U.S. dollars) by 2024. Comparatively, estimates from FactSet call for four U.S. cannabis stocks to tip the scales at more than $1 billion in annual sales by 2024.

A large cannabis dispensary sign in front of a retail store.

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Curaleaf Holdings: $2.54 billion sales estimate for 2024

No cannabis stock is expected to generate more robust sales by 2024 than Curaleaf Holdings (CURLF -6.05%), which could well surpass $2.5 billion, if Wall Street analyst's prognostications are correct.

Right now, Curaleaf has more operational dispensaries (57) than any other U.S. multistate operator (MSO), and it should continue to grow its retail store count organically and through acquisitions. On the acquisition front, Curaleaf completed the purchase of the popular Select brand of cannabis products earlier this year, and should close on its buyout of privately held MSO Grassroots soon. Once the deal is finalized, the combined entity will have 89 operational dispensaries and the ability to open as many as 135 stores in 23 states. 

Aside from being a dispensary leader, Curaleaf is focused on opening retail locations in markets that matter. Curaleaf is one of the largest players in Arizona, which could very well be voting to legalize recreational marijuana come November. It also has a sizable presence in medical marijuana-legal Florida, which is expected to generate the third-most sales of any state by 2024.

Multiple clear jars on a dispensary counter that are filled with unique cannabis strains.

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Cresco Labs: $1.76 billion sales estimate for 2024

According to Wall Street, Curaleaf's closest competition on the sales front will come from Cresco Labs (CRLBF -3.98%). Like Curaleaf, Cresco plans to use organic expansion and acquisitions to build up its business.

The most transformative acquisition occurred in January, when Cresco Labs closed on its all-share deal to buy Origin House. Though this deal added cultivation space, the real treasure in buying Origin House was gaining access to its cannabis distribution license in California. There are only a handful of companies in the Golden State allowed to transport marijuana, and Cresco is now one. Best of all, it can now place its proprietary products in close to 600 dispensaries throughout the state. And, in case I failed to mention it, California is the biggest legal weed market in the U.S. (and world) by a longshot.

In terms of organic growth, Cresco Labs has 18 operational dispensaries at the moment, with a particular focus on the Illinois market, where the company recently opened its eighth location. Illinois is the first state to OK the consumption and sale of adult-use weed entirely at the legislative level, and it opened its doors to recreational sales on Jan. 1, 2020. By 2024, the Land of Lincoln is projected to generate more than $1 billion in annual pot sales. 

An edibles tag and cannabis leaf laid atop an assortment of cookies and brownies.

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Green Thumb Industries: $1.54 billion sales estimate for 2024

Perhaps my favorite U.S. MSO is also on the list: Green Thumb Industries (GTBIF -3.20%). Wall Street will be looking for Green Thumb to top $1.5 billion in sales by 2024, which'll be a significant jump from the $455 million estimated in full-year sales for 2020.

When it comes to operational dispensaries and licenses, Green Thumb is a major player. It has 48 operational dispensaries at the moment, but holds licenses to open as many as 96 in a dozen states. Like Curaleaf, Green Thumb has been very methodical about the markets it's choosing to open new locations. Green Thumb is likely to maximize its storefront presence in Illinois, and it bought its way into the tourist-friendly Nevada market. Within the four years, Nevada should be leading the country in per-capita cannabis spending.

A big key to Green Thumb's success is that a majority of its revenue is derived from derivatives (i.e., non-dried-flower products, like edibles and vapes). Not only are derivative a higher-margin product, but they usually bear higher price points, which'll make it easier for Green Thumb to grow its sales.

A green highway sign with a white cannabis leaf that reads, Welcome to Florida.

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Trulieve Cannabis: $1.06 billion sales estimate for 2024

Finally, MSO Trulieve Cannabis (TCNNF -6.41%) is expected to clear the bar with a little over $1 billion in total sales by 2024.

What makes Trulieve such an interesting case is that nearly all of the company's operational dispensaries are located in a single state -- Florida. Trulieve announced last week that it was opening its 52nd dispensary in the Sunshine State. Comparatively, it only has two open dispensaries outside of Florida. This laser-focus on the Florida market has allowed for effective branding and kept the company's marketing expenses relatively low. In fact, among pure-play pot stocks, none is more profitable on a nominal basis right now than Trulieve Cannabis. 

At some point soon, Trulieve is going to hit a level of saturation in its home market that'll require the company to execute its blueprint in another market. Chances are this new target will be Connecticut or Massachusetts, albeit the company does have an open dispensary in California. Trulieve Cannabis' success in moving beyond Florida will ultimately decide whether it hits $1 billion in annual sales.