What happened

Shares of Aphria (NASDAQ:APHA), Canopy Growth (NASDAQ:CGC), and Cronos Group (NASDAQ:CRON) climbed on Monday, as marijuana stocks furthered their ascent. As of 12:30 p.m. EDT, their stocks were up 10%, 9%, and 5%, respectively.

So what 

Cannabis stocks rose sharply last week after Vermont Gov. Phil Scott said he wouldn't veto a measure that would legalize sales of recreational marijuana in the state. The cannabis industry received more good news when U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris said former Vice President Joe Biden would decriminalize marijuana at the federal level if elected president. 

Cannabis buds on top of rising stacks of gold coins

Investors are growing increasingly excited about cannabis companies' growth prospects. Image source: Getty Images.

The U.S. market is projected to be the largest marijuana market in the world, with sales reaching as high as $100 million annually within the next decade, according to some analysts. Quicker-than-expected progress toward legalization could allow those sales to materialize sooner than many investors expect.

Now what

Aphria, Canopy Growth, and Cronos Group are some of the stronger companies within the marijuana industry. Aphria is one of the most profitable, with five consecutive quarters of positive adjusted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization (EBITDA). Canopy and Cronos, meanwhile, have strong balance sheets, with more than $1.5 billion and $1.3 billion in cash and investments, respectively.

As more states legalize marijuana -- and particularly if the U.S. federal government takes steps toward legalization -- investors could continue to bid up shares of these cannabis leaders in the months ahead.