As the cannabis industry continues to flourish with new and innovative products and services, a handful of companies are standing out above the crowd. This list of exceptional cannabis companies is a look at some of the top contenders that made large strides in 2015 – and will likely continue to make more in 2016.
#1 MJ Freeway
MJ Freeway opened for business in 2010 alongside the budding legal, recreational cannabis industry in Colorado. Being a newer industry without set protocols and processes, their product caught on filling a void in the cannabis sector to help track and manage inventory.
Co-founders Amy Poinsett and Jessica Billingsley say they developed MJ Freeway to help marijuana businesses “expand and thrive,” providing them with supportive business solutions designed specifically for the industry. Their first proprietary software in 2010, GramTracker, which assisted users to manage every plant, gram and dollar produced, was an early favorite by clients in an industry that operates mostly via cash transactions.
Offering a complete suite of cannabis-centric business solutions that include point of sale, inventory tracking, manufacturing and cultivation management software platforms, MJ Freeway has become a one-stop shop for running the day-to-day of a retail marijuana business. In addition, they also offer a key service: cannabis licensee application support – a tricky road to navigate as each state, down to particular municipalities, often have their own set of peculiar rules and regulations.
Says Poinsett, looking to the future for MJ Freeway, “One item we are really looking forward to is a major update to our tablet-based ordering system, MJ Express. This gives our clients the ability to offer a new kind of in-store purchasing experience, putting tablets in the hands of customers while they are shopping, giving them detailed product information, pictures and pricing at their fingertips.”
To date, MJ Freeway has assisted 1,500 clients to chart product from seed to sale and navigate the often haphazard business practices of the gradually maturing cannabis sector.
The company that opened the nation’s first cannabis testing lab in 2008 continues to shine this year with the opening of a new location in Albuquerque, New Mexico. The longtime leader in cannabis testing and analytics now has locations in California, Colorado, New Mexico and Nevada and launched a $5 million investment round in September to fuel continued expansion. Steep Hill offers genetic testing and consulting services utilizing a wide-range of specialized equipment, including the 2015 release of the Quantacann 2, an instrument that utilizes near-infrared spectroscopy to test marijuana samples for potency and reveal cannabinoid profiles.
This award-winning edibles company is best known for their gourmet, cannabis-infused chocolate. Bhang chocolatiers take medicated goods to another level with world class ingredients like fair-trade Venezuelan criollo cacao creating deliciously rich chocolate bars. They have also recently launched a line of vape products with a personal vaporizer called the Bhang Stick that pairs with their high quality, CO2-extracted concentrates in a variety of sativa, indica and hybrid strains.
Makers of the first mass-produced, cannabis-specific line of organic and hydroponic agricultural nutrients, Advanced Nutrients is a household name in the marijuana grow sector. It’s nearly impossible these days to walk into a hydroponic store and not see their products displayed front and center. Renegade cannabis grower “Big Mike” Straumietis, who for decades engaged in high-stakes, cat-and-mouse with law enforcement while cultivating and trafficking marijuana, has built this dynamic company that dominates the nutrient market. Employing smart strategies like sending company management to actually work at hydroponic stores – determining what owners, staff and growers really want – is a key reason why Straumietis’ business is booming. Advanced Nutrients is a company in the 2015 flourishing marijuana space that values consumer feedback and looks to continually improve products providing cultivators with what they need to grow robust plants.
#5 Mary’s Medicinals
Mary’s Medicinals is best known as the distributor of a transdermal cannabis patch, a product that transformed the way people treat themselves with medical cannabis. The company hired its first employee in 2014 and is on a continued rise with plans to be available in eight states by the close of 2015. Mary’s Medicinals is now also offering a line of CBD products available across the nation as Mary’s Nutritionals.
Functioning as an encyclopedic database of cannabis knowledge, Leafly made media history by being the first company in the nation to run a full-page cannabis ad in the New York Times, reaching an unimaginable amount of mainstream readers and further introducing cannabis into the larger, sociocultural conversation. Leafly empowers users by offering anyone with internet access admission to a wealth of information about what they’re smoking and breaking down the characteristics of different strains. Now, they are producing short videos that educate viewers about the fascinating intricacies of cannabis by exploring subjects like topicals, edibles, concentrates and more.
#7 GW Pharmaceuticals
Doctors Geoffrey Guy and Brian Whittle founded GW Pharmaceuticals in the United Kingdom in 1998 and have since gone on to produce impressive cannabinoid prescription medicines for patients, including Sativex – an oral cannabis spray that has been approved throughout 27 countries – and Epidiolex for childhood epilepsy. They have been working to develop a portfolio of cannabinoid treatments with some of the most prominent scientists in the medical field and are looking to change the face of medicine through whole-plant extracts.
#8 Women Grow
Founded by Jane West, Jazmin Hupp and Julie Batkiewicz in Denver, Colorado in 2014, Women Grow has since expanded to 33 cities throughout the U.S. and Canada. The group’s list of achievements in its inaugural year include bringing 76 members to lobby for cannabis rights in Washington, D.C. and hosting a leadership summit that aligned women from 20 different states across the nation.
#9 Harborside Health Center
Often cited as the foremost medical marijuana dispensary in the world, Harborside Health Center has been in business for nearly a decade and continues to thrive due to their unwavering focus on superior marijuana products. Along with an extensive list of items continually on display – including fresh flowers and concentrates, as well as edibles, tinctures and creams – Harborside also tests all cannabis on offer at their safety testing facility, Steep Hill. Part of Harborside’s continued success is due to this diligence in lab testing materials for potency, harmful chemicals and cannabinoid profiles. Having been embroiled in ongoing legal battles for years with the U.S. Attorney’s office threatening to shutter their doors citing that they’ve “grown too big,” Harborside has managed to keep plugging away, providing the Bay Area with uninterrupted and safe cannabis supplies moving into the company’s second decade. In addition, Harborside has expanded and opened a location in Portland, Oregon in October.
Convenience takes on a completely new meaning thanks to Eaze, an on-demand cannabis delivery service that raised $10 million in investor funding in 2015. This company was the first dubbed as the “Uber for weed” before others began operating similar businesses. During the summer, they launched EazeMD, a service that allows people to undergo medical cannabis evaluations with a physician via video chat, further revolutionizing what it means to merge technology with the cannabis industry.
#11 G FarmaLabs
Founded in 2013, G FarmaLabs began as an edibles company and expanded in 2015 to GFarma Brands – an umbrella company representing several different ventures, including Liquid Gold Extracts alongside a news and television platform.
#12 Dr. Dabber
With one of the best personal vaporizers on the market, Dr. Dabber is on a mission to elevate the vape pen and accessories game big time. Using their signature low-heat titanium technology, they have improved the vaping experience through their quality products.
#13 Cabinet Grow
Having been awarded a Financial Industry National Regulatory Authority designation in 2015, Cabinet Grow is now a force in the indoor cabinet system space. When CEO Sam May wasn’t able to find effective LED grow lights that met the high standards he set for his grow units, he decided the company would go out and manufacture their own, creating the Flip LED grow light. Cabinet Grow’s attention to detail, quality craftsmanship and plug-and-play design positions them as a leader in the grow system marketplace.
While security services might not be the first thing a person considers when thinking about legalized cannabis, it’s certainly on the minds of dispensaries and cultivators who deal with large amounts of cash in this still federally illicit business. As states across the nation continue to alter legislation in favor of lifting prohibitions on marijuana, MPS has positioned itself to be a frontrunner in security services for the cannabis industry. As of 2015, the company is operating in Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada and Washington.
#15 Magical Butter
Practical, purposeful and irreplaceable, Magical Butter offers patients an easy, foolproof way to safely prepare cannabis butter, oil and tinctures. After being named one of CNBC’s Top 25 List of up-and-coming leaders and innovators, founder Garyn Angel saw his company’s popularity explode.
#16 Dixie Elixirs
Based in Denver, Colorado, Dixie started with a single offering – a THC-infused soda called the Dixie Elixir – and has expanded out to offer 30 different products, including chocolates, CBD drops, topicals and more. Founder Tripp Keber is regularly asked to speak at cannabis events as a specialist with deep knowledge of the ever-expanding edibles market. In 2015, Dixie Elixirs expanded sales to California, Oregon and Arizona.
Billed as a “social network for the cannabis community,” Massroots has over 650,000 active users who use the app to share experiences about cannabis, as well as stay connected with their local dispensaries. With sights set on becoming the foremost advertising platform for cannabis and its ancillary products, Massroots is a leading provider of ground-level data on cannabis consumer preferences. As of the fourth quarter of 2015, Massroots counted 170 million user interactions and over 1,000 businesses using their site.
Swedish light company Heliospectra has deep roots in the indoor/greenhouse agricultural industry. With their sights set on the rapidly expanding U.S. cannabis market, Heliospectra has seen an opportunity to use its leading-edge, light spectrum technology to assist marijuana cultivators in growing better product with better efficiency. Their LEDs lights have been known to replace high-pressure sodium lights and produce quality flowers that stand up to conventionally-grown indoor.
#19 ArcView Group
As cannabis remains federally illegal, many private investment firms remain on the sidelines as the marijuana industry continues on its upward trajectory with no end in sight. However, California-based ArcView Group is doing the exact opposite. A collective of over 500 accredited investors are busy figuring out – and gambling on – which of the upcoming services and products will be the next Uber or Amazon of the cannabis sector. As of the final quarter of 2015, ArcView Group members have invested in over 85 companies to the tune of $55 million.
#20 Kandy Pens
True to their name, this company creates super sweet vape pens in a variety of candy-like colors to fit every personality. Kandy Pens just released their new K-Vape pen and a limited edition 24K edition for people who love owning cannabis collectables.
#21 The Clear
As controversial as The Clear might be to some purists, this unique concentrate has continued to venture into exciting new realms. The Clear, which sources food-grade terpenes to create flavors mimicking strains, has released a series of pre-loaded vapes, including mouth-watering flavors such as lime sorbet.
Medbox continues to create buzz throughout the industry as one of the world’s first cannabis vending machines to be named a cannabis company to watch in the stock market. Their dispensing machines and software technology allows patients the choice of up to 50 different varieties of medicine via touch-screen user interface.
#23 Hitman Glass
This high-quality glass company crafts top-notch water pipes and has created signature shapes that have evolved into industry staples like the double-barrel recycler. They have a huge reach in the industry, thanks to their numerous collaborative projects with glass artists far and wide.
Nugshots founder, Erik Christiansen, set out to bring the world “superior cannabis photography” in 2009, but really made a splash in 2015 with the release of “GREEN: A Field Guide to Marijuana.” The book features incredible images of our favorite plant in all its glory.
#25 Buds and Roses
Buds and Roses continues to set the standard for dispensaries in Los Angeles. The dispensary carries a wide selection of Kyle Kushman’s Veganic strains. In addition, owner Aaron Justis continues his political involvement as a member of several organizations including the National Cannabis Industry Association.
What cannabusinesses stood out to you this year? Tell us in the comments below.