The burgeoning marijuana industry could be on the cup of a major breakout. Here are three companies that could lead the charge in 2017.
The marijuana industry enjoyed multiple tailwinds in 2016, as the combination of legalization, growing public acceptance and breakthrough drug treatments sent pot stocks soaring. 2017 is expected to be another solid year for the industry. Below we present three companies from across the globe that could propel the market higher.
GW Pharmaceuticals (GWPH)
Very few companies are as synonymous with medical marijuana as Britain’s GW Pharmaceuticals (GWPH), which has been involved in cannabis-based medical research since 1990. With a market cap of more than $3.2 billion, GWPH operates several subsidiaries that are engaged in discovering and commercializing cannabinoid prescription medication.
While GWPH has an impressive portfolio of cannabinoid-based drugs, Epidiolex is the most promising. The drug, which has successfully treated people with epileptic seizures, is awaiting approval by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Experts say approval could be granted by the end of 2017, making Epidiolex one of the hottest products on the market for patients suffering from epilepsy. At its peak, the drug has the potential to generate an additional $3 billion in annual sales for GWPH, according to some industry analysts.
GWPH shares have already gained 15% since the start of the year, far outpacing the healthcare industry and broader market averages.
Vitality Biopharma Inc. (VBIO)
Investors attracted to the low-risk, high-reward promise of penny stocks will find great inspiration in Vitality Biopharma Inc. (VBIO). The Los Angeles-based company, which is championing a new class of cannabis-based prodrugs, has shed its penny-stock status on route to new record highs over the past two months. The stock now trades in the mid-$2 range, having reached a high of $4.09 at the end of last year.
VBIO’s promise lies in its site-specific delivery of THC and cannabidiol, which could provide therapeutic treatment of neurological and inflammatory disorders while reducing the systemic delivery of THC into the bloodstream. The company has received approval from both the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) and the State of California Research Advisory Panel, allowing it to expand its capacity. This has led to plenty of excitement surrounding VBIO’s potential as an innovative medical marijuana stock. However, investors should be prepared for volatility as the company scales up operations in an unproven market.
Canopy Growth Corporation (WEED)
North of the border, a steadily expanding pot industry is beginning to take shape, and companies like Canopy Growth Corporation (WEED) are primed to take advantage. The Canadian medical marijuana company, which trades under the coveted ticker symbol WEED on the Toronto Stock Exchange, saw its market cap surge past $2 billion last year as its share price more than tripled.
Canopy, which grows and distributes its own medical marijuana, benefits from a stable political environment after Canada became one of the first countries to legalize medical marijuana back in 2001. Before being elected, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau vowed to fully “legalize, regulate and restrict access to marijuana” for recreational users. The Liberal government is set to introduce a legalization bill in Spring 2017. Investors with exposure to the Canadian marijuana industry stand to benefit greatly from this legalization campaign.
There’s plenty of excitement surrounding the medical marijuana industry. These three stocks provide plenty of room for upside and speculation in a burgeoning market that is still cutting through the red tape. To learn more about the risks of investing in marijuana stocks, check out the following article.
 Keith Speights (December 4, 2016). “Top Marijuana Stocks to Buy in 2017.” The Motley Fool.
 Marketwired (December 21, 2016). “Vitality Biopharma Receives DEA Approval for Cannabinoid Pharma Development Facility.” Nasdaq.
 Huffington Post Canada (April 20, 2016). “Canadian Marijuana Legalization Bill Coming In Spring 2017, Jane Philpott Announces.”