What comes to mind when you hear the term "dividend stocks?" Most people picture a slow-growing stock of a company in a boring industry: OK for retirees, but not for investors who want a certain level of returns. 

This stereotypical dividend stock isn't one I'd want to buy. I'm not retired yet, so income isn't as important to me. However, I like the idea of a stock that holds the potential to generate solid growth and pay attractive dividends. This combination usually gets market-beating total returns.

The great news is that such stocks exist. Here are three dividend stocks I'd buy right now.

Smiling woman holding a tablet with three stacks of gold coins rising from left to right.

Image source: Getty Images.

1. Abbott Labs

Abbott Laboratories (NYSE:ABT) is anything but boring. Fast Company named it the "World Changing Company of the Year" for 2020. Abbott has ranked No. 1 in its industry on Fortune magazine's "Most Admired Companies" list for seven years running. 

The healthcare giant isn't a slow-growth stock. Abbott's shares have soared more than 20% so far this year -- trouncing the S&P 500 index's performance. Wall Street analysts project that the company will deliver average annual earnings growth of close to 15% over the next five years.

A big chunk of that growth will come from Abbott's medical devices, including its popular FreeStyle Libre continuous glucose monitoring system. Abbott is also a leader in diagnostic testing, with six different COVID-19 diagnostic tests currently on the market. Its nutritional products and branded generics businesses should also grow as the emerging markets expand.

As the icing on the cake, Abbott Labs reigns as a Dividend Aristocrat. This elite group consists only of companies with 25 consecutive years of dividend increases. Abbott's streak of dividend hikes currently stands at 48 years. Its dividend yield isn't very high (only around 1.3% right now), but you can count on continued dividend growth. You can expect Abbott's earnings to keep growing, too. 

2. Brookfield Renewable

Do you think the use of renewable energy will become more or less prevalent in the coming decade and beyond? If you said more prevalent, you'd be right.

This trend should be great news for Brookfield Renewable (NYSE:BEP) (NYSE:BEPC). Brookfield Renewable operates hydroelectric, wind, and (to a lesser extent) solar renewable power assets in 17 countries across North America, South America, Europe, and Asia. None of these individual markets generates more than 10% of the company's total cash flow.

Since 1999, Brookfield Renewable has delivered an average annualized total return of 18%. It's well-positioned to continue generating massive returns over the next few years as demand for renewable energy grows. That growth seems all but guaranteed as countries around the world target aggressive carbon reduction.

Brookfield Renewable has increased its distribution (the equivalent of a dividend) by a compound annual growth rate of 6% over the last two decades. The company expects to grow its distribution by between 6% and 9% annually over the long run. 

3. Innovative Industrial Properties

Sure, there's a lot of hype about the cannabis market, but there's a real growth story for cannabis, especially in the U.S. Innovative Industrial Properties (NYSE:IIPR) has tapped into that growth story in a big way.

IIP doesn't grow or sell cannabis, which is why the company can list its shares on the New York Stock Exchange. Instead, IIP is a real estate investment trust that focuses solely on the medical cannabis industry. It buys properties from medical cannabis operators, then leases those properties back to them. 

This business model has been a huge winner for IIP so far. Its trailing-12-month revenue has soared over 1,000% during the last three years, while earnings have skyrocketed more than 2,700% during the period. This growth caused IIP stock to jump 580%. Its shares are up more than 70% so far in 2020. I think that IIP's valuation could realistically double by 2022 simply by continuing to buy and lease more medical cannabis properties at its current rate.

As an REIT, IIP must distribute at least 90% of its taxable income to shareholders in the form of dividends. That's exactly what the company has been doing, with its dividend increasing by 368% over the last three years. IIP's dividend yield currently stands at close to 3.5%. With its clear growth runway and this juicy dividend, this cannabis-focused REIT is one of my favorite dividend 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.