The 10 Largest Legal Cannabis Companies of 2016

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Courtesy of Cannabis Life Network

Despite the great many, many things that went wrong in 2016, there’s no question it was a banner year for the bud business in North America. The Canadian government is expected to table legislation on the legalization of cannabis by early next year and, across the border, recreational use is now legal in seven states and the District of Columbia, while medicinal use is legal in 20 out of 50 states.

Analysts at Viridian Capital Advisors maintain a cannabis stock index, considered the benchmark index for the industry, that is up 175.3 percent for 2016 through Dec. 9. Viridian tracks the performance of approximately 50 publicly traded cannabis companies, and stock performance is categorized into 12 different sectors that comprise the core business segments within the industry, including Agriculture Technology, Biotech/Pharma, Consulting Services, Consumption Devices, Cultivation & Retail, Hemp, Investments/M&A (Holding Companies), Infused Products & Extracts, Miscellaneous Ancillary, Physical Security, Real Estate, and Software/Media.

Sectors are further differentiated into those that “touch the plant” and those that are providers of ancillary products and services. The sectors posting the biggest year-to-date gains are the biotech/pharmaceutical and the cultivation/retail sector, up 413.3% and 290.7%, respectively.

Of the 10 largest U.S.-listed companies, nine are biotech/pharma firms and just one “touches the plant.” In Canada, the three largest cannabis firms are all LPs.

Here are the current 10 largest cannabis firms in North America, ranked on the basis of market cap. All amounts are presented in U.S. dollars unless otherwise noted.

GW Pharmaceuticals
Market cap: $2.87 billion
Year-to-date stock price change: +64%

GW Pharmaceuticals PLC (NASDAQ: GWPH) is a biopharmaceutical company that develops and commercializes therapeutics using a proprietary cannabinoid product platform. The company is included in the Nasdaq biotechnology index. Shares closed at $114.24 on Friday, December 23, and the stock’s 52-week trading range is $79.62 to $137.88.

Canopy Growth
Market cap: $780.6 million
Year-to-date stock price change: +192%

Toronto-traded Canopy Growth Corp. (TSE: CGC) is a diversified cannabis company that produces and sells legal cannabis in the Canadian medical market. Shares closed at C$9.35 on Dec. 23 and the 52-week range is CAD $2.97 to CAD $17.86.

Insys Therapeutics
Market cap: $664.6 million
Year-to-date stock price change: -68%

Insys Therapeutics Inc. (NASDAQ: INSY) is a biopharmaceutical company that has had two cannabis-based drugs approved by the U.S. FDA. The most recent drug approval, Syndros, boosts appetite for cancer and AIDS-related patients suffering from weight loss. Shares closed at $9.21 Dec. 23 in a 52-week range of $8.70 to $29.75.

Aurora Cannabis
Market cap: $433.8 million
Year-to-date stock price change: +311%

Aurora Cannabis Inc. (OTC: ACBFF) also trades on Toronto’s venture exchange and is another Canadian company focused on growing and selling medical marijuana. It grows both psychoactive THC products and medically oriented CBD products. Shares closed at $1.67 on Dec. 23. The stock’s 52-week range is $0.31 to $2.96.

Axim Biotechnologies
Market cap: $401.6 million
Year-to-date stock price change: +656%

Axim Biotechnologies Inc. (OTCQB: AXIM) is a biotech firm developing cannabidiol-based treatments for pain, spasticity, anxiety and other medical disorders. At one time this year, the stock was up 2,000% on high-hopes for Axim’s product pipeline. Shares closed at $7.77 on Dec. 23 in a 52-week range of $0.21 to $10.00.

Medical Marijuana Inc.
Market cap: $380.1 million
Year-to-date stock price change: +281%

Medical Marijuana Inc. (OTCPink: MJNA) is a development stage company that develops, sells and distributes hemp oil that contains naturally occurring cannabinoids. The company also licenses its proprietary testing, genetics, labeling and packaging methods for the medicinal herb industry. Shares closed at $0.15 on Friday, and the stock’s 52-week range is $0.03 to $0.27.

Corbus Pharmaceuticals
Market cap: $375.5 million
Year-to-date stock price change: +410%

This clinical-stage pharmaceutical firm is developing a synthetic oral endocannabinoid-mimetic drug, Resunab, for treating chronic inflammation and halting fibrotic processes without causing immunosuppression. Resunab is in Phase 2 clinical testing for treatment of systemic lupus erythematosus. Shares of Corbus Pharmaceuticals Holdings Inc. (NASDAQ: CRBP) closed at $8.55 on Dec. 23 in a 52-week range of $1.01 to $10.78.

Aphria
Market cap: $373.6 million
Year-to-date stock price change: +286%

Aprhia Inc. (OTC: APHQF) also trades on Canada’s venture exchange and is another grower and seller of medical marijuana through retail stores and wholesale distribution. The company recently signed an intellectual property transfer deal with an Arizona medical marijuana grower. Shares closed at $3.537 Dec. 23. The 52-week range is $0.77 to $5.79.

Arena Pharmaceuticals
Market cap: $340.6 million
Year-to-date stock price change: -20%

Arena Pharmaceuticals Inc. (NASDAQ: ARNA) is a biopharmaceutical company that developed and distributes a weight-loss drug known as Belviq. Arena makes this list on the strength of a new candidate, ADP371, a cannabinoid-based pain treatment. The stock closed at $1.53 a share on Friday, and its 52-week range is $1.30 to $2.16.

Cara Therapeutics
Market cap: $251 million
Year-to-date stock price change: -43%

Cara Therapeutics Inc. (NASDAQ: CARA) is a clinical-stage biopharma firm that is developing and commercializing treatments for pain and pruritus. In addition to a pre-clinical cannabinoid candidate, CR701, the company has a pain treatment in late-stage trials. Shares closed at $9.97 on Friday. The 52-week range is $4.26 to $17.69.

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