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Ranking Canada's Top 10 Marijuana Growers

Sean Williams, The Motley Fool

Following decades of hiding in the shadows, marijuana now finds itself in the spotlight as one of the fastest-growing industries on the planet (especially in North America). Much of this has to do with Canada becoming the first industrialized country in the world to legalize recreational marijuana. According to Wall Street projections, Canada's legal weed industry could net close to $6 billion in sales by 2022.

Behind this rapid projected growth are a number of top-notch marijuana stocks aiming to grow in excess of 100,000 kilos of cannabis when operating at full capacity. Although the peak potential for a number of growers is still unknown, due either to the companies themselves not divulging their peak capacity or to growers slow-stepping their expansion efforts, there are 10 clear standouts from the production side of the equation.

An up-close look at a flowering cannabis plant growing indoors.

Image source: Getty Images.

1. Aurora Cannabis: Approximately 662,000 kilos

As should be no surprise, Edmonton-based Aurora Cannabis (NYSE: ACB) has been the expected production leader for quite some time. Company estimates peg Aurora at 625,000 kilos of annual run-rate output by the midpoint of 2020, assuming its largest grow farms -- Aurora Sun, Exeter, and Aurora Nordic 2 -- are licensed and brought online. All told, Aurora has, existing or under construction, facilities capable of at least 662,000 kilos of annual output and could easily approach 1 million kilos per year if it were to further develop land acquired from MedReleaf and ICC Labs.

2. Canopy Growth: 500,000 kilos to 550,000 kilos

If there were a "Tier 1" of top growers, it's pretty much Aurora Cannabis and Canopy Growth (NYSE: CGC) in a league of their own. Although the largest pot stock in the world hasn't divulged its annual peak production potential, it has let investors know that more than 4.4 million square feet of its 5.6 million square feet of cultivation space spanning 10 properties is licensed for planting by Health Canada. Assuming industry-average yields of around 100 grams per square foot, Canopy Growth should have little issue netting more than 500,000 kilos from its growing space.

3. Aphria: 255,000 kilos

Unlike Aurora and Canopy, which have 14 and 10 producing properties, respectively, Aphria (NYSE: APHA) is expected to generate 255,000 kilos at peak capacity from just three properties. The first, Aphria One, is an organically constructed grow farm capable of 110,000 kilos of annual yield. The second is the Aphria Diamond joint venture with Double Diamond Farms that's retrofitting existing vegetable-growing greenhouses for cannabis production. When licensed, it'll be capable of 140,000 kilos. The icing on the cake (5,000 kilos) comes from Aphria's acquisition of Broken Coast Cannabis in 2018.

An indoor hydroponic cannabis-growing facility.

Image source: Getty Images.

4. CannTrust Holdings: 200,000 kilos to 300,000 kilos

In late March, CannTrust Holdings (NYSE: CTST) thrust itself into the top-growers conversation when it announced its intent to acquire up to 200 acres of land that'll be used to grow 100,000 kilos to 200,000 kilos of marijuana outdoors. Most of this outdoor pot will be used for extraction purposes to develop high-margin cannabis-derivative products. CannTrust's remaining output comes from its 840,000-square-foot flagship Niagara campus (which is undergoing a phase 3 expansion) and its 60,000-square-foot Vaughan facility. Both Niagara and Vaughan are utilizing low-cost water and electricity to grow cannabis plants using hydroponic methods (i.e., a nutrient-rich water solvent, as opposed to soil).

5. The Green Organic Dutchman: 219,000 kilos

Although it's a bit late to the party, The Green Organic Dutchman (NASDAQOTH: TGODF) currently projects as a top-five, maybe even top-four, producer with 219,000 kilos of company-estimated peak yield. Originally forecast for 195,000 kilos, much of which is expected to come from its 820,000-square-foot Valleyfield campus in Quebec, The Green Organic Dutchman recently announced improved design and engineering updates at its key cultivation facilities that'll boost output by more than 10% to the new 219,000-kilo figure.

6. HEXO: 150,000 kilos

HEXO (NYSEMKT: HEXO) has also climbed the ranks pretty substantially in 2019, thanks to its now-completed acquisition of Newstrike Brands for $197 million. The purchase added a 470,000-square-foot cultivation facility that, in combination with the 1.31 million-square-foot Gatineau campus in Quebec, should yield 150,000 kilos of cannabis each year. HEXO also happened to land the largest supply deal in history last year -- an aggregate of 200,000 kilos over five years with its home province of Quebec, with an option for a sixth year.

A tipped-over prescription bottle containing dried cannabis buds that's lying atop a doctor's prescription pad.

Image source: Getty Images.

7. Aleafia Health: 138,000 kilos

Perhaps the biggest surprise is that a handful of Canada's top growers are relatively unknown and unproven. Aleafia Health (NASDAQOTH: ALEAF) jumped into the discussion when it completed an all-stock acquisition of Emblem in March. In addition to combining two companies that operate medical clinics capable of prescribing medical marijuana in Canada, it brought Aleafia's 98,000 kilos of peak output and Emblem's 40,000 kilos of production together under one umbrella. Once Aleafia Health's three grow farms are complete and licensed, it expects 138,000 kilos of annual yield.

8. Zenabis Global: 131,300 kilos

Another relative no-name that's been thrust into the picture is Zenabis Global (NASDAQOTH: ZBISF), which is a pot grower formed by a reverse takeover in January. Zenabis, which operates six facilities, four of which are grow farms, expects to produce at an annual run rate of 131,300 kilos by this coming August. A majority of Zenabis Global's production will derive from its Langley campus in British Columbia, which, one day, could be fully expanded to 2.1 million square feet and produce 426,000 kilos a year, per company estimates.

9. Cronos Group: 117,500 kilos

Although Cronos Group (NASDAQ: CRON) is one of the largest marijuana stocks by market cap, it's nowhere near the top of the production list, with 117,500 kilos expected when operating at full capacity, according to company guidance. Cronos Group will get most of its marijuana (70,000 kilos) from an 850,000-square-foot joint-venture project with a group of investors, as well as its wholly owned Peace Naturals grow site, which will contribute 40,000 kilos a year. The remaining 7,500 kilos will mostly come from overseas markets, including Australia and Israel.

Multiple clear jars packed with dried cannabis buds on a counter.

Image source: Getty Images.

10. OrganiGram Holdings: 113,000 kilos

Rounding out the top 10 growers in Canada is OrganiGram Holdings (NASDAQ: OGI), the only major grower to be based in an Atlantic province. Despite operating just a single campus in Moncton, New Brunswick, OrganiGram projects it'll grow 113,000 kilos of weed in approximately 490,000 square feet of cultivation space. Such high yields are possible thanks to utilizing three growing tiers at its Moncton campus.

Tilray, Village Farms International, Emerald Health Therapeutics, and Auxly Cannabis Group (which is more of a royalty company than producer) are on the outside looking in as of now, but they could easily make their appearance in the top 10 with an organic expansion project or acquisition in the future.

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Sean Williams owns shares of CannTrust Holdings Inc. The Motley Fool recommends Auxly Cannabis Group, CannTrust Holdings Inc, HEXO, and OrganiGram Holdings. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.