Defining the Cannabis Company - A Comprehensive Breakdown of Cannabis Business Categories
8 min

Defining the Cannabis Company - A Comprehensive Breakdown of Cannabis Business Categories

The Cannabis Industry Includes a Multitude of Sectors and Specialisations

At CannabisMarketCap we collect and publish all the relevant information for publicly traded companies linked to the cannabis industry. Our goal remains to deliver an objective overview of this growing market and provide comprehensive, impartial information for investors. To achieve our ambitions, we need to include stocks from all facets of the industry.

Cannabis stocks is a broad term that can be used interchangeably with weed stocks, marijuana stocks, hemp stocks and pot stocks. All of these terms can be boiled down to one overarching theme. They are all used to describe the shares of companies active in the cannabis industry. Once you recognise the meaning of these terms, we can start to break down the different subcategories or business sectors that each company operates within.

Building a Portfolio Based on Diversification

Cannabis business categories are not only increasing by the day, but many companies operate a vertically integrated business model, and as such offer services across multiple sectors. In this blog, we will detail some of the major and ancillary business categories, with the aim to help investors, both new and experienced, build an understanding of how the cannabis industry operates. If you are unsure as to where research into cannabis stocks should start, this extensive guide can help kick-start a diversified cannabis portfolio.

Major Cannabis Categories

Alongside each area of the industry you can find a brief overview of what services can be expected, alongside examples of businesses operating within that space.

Licensed Cannabis Growers

The majority of the cannabis industry will be made up of companies whose commercial viability comes from the ability to cultivate, process and produce licensed cannabis flower. For any industry to operate successfully, it needs to have a core collection of businesses, whose focus is the production of a basic commodity. In this scenario, the basic commodity is the harvested flower of the cannabis sativa species. Without it, the remaining business sectors would not exist.

Companies operating within this space will have invested in purpose-built facilities designed to get the highest return (cannabis flower) alongside any necessary licensing procedures. Many of the industry’s most prominent players are licensed cannabis growers, and mainstream media often treat them as the face of the cannabis industry.

  • Canopy Growth Corporation: One of the largest companies operating within the licensed cannabis grower sector. Canopy Growth Corporation has an expected output of over 500,000 kilograms per year, though not confirmed by the company.
  • Aurora Cannabis: Aurora Cannabis has been aggressively pursuing all avenues to increase its production output and expand its portfolio of subsidiaries. The result is a future output that could exceed 700,000 kilograms per year.

Options for diversification do exist among cannabis growers, as some have expanded to handle their own distribution via a network of affiliated retail sites (dispensaries). Many licensed cannabis growers also oversee the manufacturing of product ranges that include oils, concentrates and soft gel capsules or industrial hemp.

CBD and Extracts

Closely aligned with the wellness industry, cannabis extracts, CBD, cannabinoid therapies and concentrates make up a significant proportion of the industry.

This sector is among the fastest growing, due in part to the recent Farm Bill amendment that President Trump signed in the last days of 2018. The bill makes hemp legal to cultivate throughout the US once a license has been obtained. Hemp is used as the primary component of cannabis extracts and CBD oils, because it does not contain THC and is generally legal across much of the world.

Cannabinoid extract companies naturally gravitate to beverages, edibles and healthcare, because of the non-psychotropic nature of many of the cannabinoids, within both hemp and cannabis varieties. This business sector is also the category most likely to attract the attention of mainstream consumer markets, thanks to its focus on improving quality of life through holistic treatment.

  • Medical Marijuana Inc.: Operating at an international level, Medical Marijuana Inc. has a substantial interest in CBD oils derived from hemp and conducting cannabinoid research.
  • Charlotte's Web Holdings Inc.: Focused exclusively on hemp-derived products, Charlotte’s Web has a varied range of CBD oils, capsules and topicals.
Beverages (Including Alcohol)

Naturally, the concentrates and extracts sector has carried over into both beverages and edibles. Drinks are easily infused with cannabinoids and make an interesting prospect, because of their cross-over with the wellness industry.

Coca-Cola, Molson Coors Brewing, Constellation Brands and Budweiser have all shown interest in producing cannabinoid-infused drink ranges. Several have signed up to joint ventures with licensed growers to capitalise on this new and emerging market.

  • Phivida Holdings Inc.: Through brand OKI, Phividia Holdings is marketing cannabinoid-infused drinks for the sports/wellness markets. The beverages are designed to leave users feeling refreshed and renewed.
  • Isodiol: The company has several brands under their umbrella that offer drinks with hemp complex, for example Aquivita and CBDXtreme. Pot-O-Coffee is their range of coffee, also infused with a cannabinoid complex.

Another popular and rapidly growing sector, edibles, experiences a large amount of overlap with major and ancillary cannabis companies. Edibles have garnered mass approval because of their appealing nature, and risk-free status. In particular, chocolate and candy ranges have been growing rapidly. Many of the partnerships listed under our beverage business category include agreements to research cannabis edibles.

  • Indiva Limited: A cannabis producer who has expanded into edible gums, chocolates and fruit-based chews, all available for purchase soon.
  • Tilray Inc.: Despite the company’s primary purpose being the cultivation of cannabis, Tilray has partnered with several companies to work on edible products.

The medical sector of the cannabis industry is one area that is subject to change on a daily basis. New research is being published as fast as the results can be analysed, and major breakthroughs continue taking place.

The sole purpose of companies operating within the pharmaceuticals sector is to develop cannabinoid-based treatments, through a range of widely available products, or by focusing on prescription medication. Several cannabis growers have branched into cannabis research and development in an attempt to improve the efficacy of their products. Some pharmaceutical companies also partner with universities or medical institutes to help support funding.

  • GW Pharmaceuticals: Responsible for producing the world’s first cannabinoid-based medication, Sativex, and FDA approved Epidiolex.
  • Tetra Bio-Pharma Inc.: Tetra Bio work alongside drug regulators to conduct clinical trials and aim to use medical cannabis products to reduce drug abuse and chronic pain.

Arguably one of the newest sectors to have developed, healthcare is a challenging field to navigate, because of the enormous variation in cannabis laws and regulations. However, as more American states and global nations move to legalise the substance, we will undoubtedly see a rise in healthcare initiatives, insurance and cannabinoid-treatment programs.

Ancillary Cannabis Categories

More often than not, ancillary businesses offer unique investment opportunities. Although these companies usually carry a higher degree of risk, because much of the industry is still unregulated, there is a certain degree of freedom that other markets cannot offer. Companies that feed indirectly into cannabis include technology, (blockchain and cryptocurrency solutions), packaging, app development, consultation for start-ups, news platforms and content generation.

With such a significant number of companies appearing, it isn't possible to list each one in the same way as our major categories. Instead, you can find a summary of company types below, along with a business that operates within that space.

Packaging and Supplies

Kush Supply Co.: Solely focused on the distribution of packaging, supplies and accessories, Kush Supply Co. is highly respected throughout the industry. Constantly changing regulation makes packaging standards a challenging field to navigate.


Medicine Man Technologies: With a specialisation in cannabis start-ups, Medicine Man Technologies provides consultation services to emerging businesses. They also help with the application process for licensed cannabis production.

Agriculture Supplies

The Scotts Miracle-Gro Company: Despite being a general agriculture supplies company, Scotts Miracle-Gro have seen the growth of the cannabis industry and branched into supplies relevant to the cultivation process.

Distribution/ Supply Chain

Origin House: Growers and cultivation companies that don’t have their own distribution network rely on businesses like Origin House. It allows product ranges to be sold nationally, and to improve category growth. Cannabis is a living commodity that needs specific conditions to be transported effectively.


All of the companies listed in CannabisMarketCap are aggregated into an index we call the “Cannabis Stock Market Capitalization”.