Canada has set October 17, 2018, as the date that adults in the country will be legally able to purchase cannabis for recreational use through licensed dispensaries and, in some areas, online. Canada has already taken an early lead when it comes to the legal cannabis industry, with many U.S. states moving to follow its path toward legalization. Nonetheless, as of this writing, the U.S. has not moved to legalize marijuana usage in either recreational or medicinal cases on a federal level. Still, Canadian legalization has inspired optimism and excitement among an enthusiastic investor base, and the share price of many pot stocks has moved to reflect that.

With the legal marijuana industry growing at a rapid pace, many analysts see the next stage of growth as one of differentiation. There is now a crowded field of competitors representing many different parts of the legal marijuana sphere. It's unlikely that each of these companies will continue to thrive, or even to survive, going forward. For that reason, investors may be interested in finding companies which are unique. Below, we'll explore several of these standouts.

GW Pharmaceuticals

One of the biggest names in the legal cannabis space is GW Pharmaceuticals (GWPH). In June, the British company saw its cannabidiol-based epilepsy drug Epidiolex receive approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). This marked the very first instance in which a cannabis-based drug received such approval. GW thus has a strong advantage relative to other medical marijuana product companies; it has a drug ready for patients. GW has continued to develop other products as well, although those are still in the pre-approval stage of development.

Liberty Health Sciences

Canadian medical marijuana company Liberty Health Sciences (LHSIF) is unique in that it does business in Florida. It stands apart from competitors because it holds one of only 14 cultivation licenses for medical marijuana producers in the state. This means that the competition for Liberty Health Sciences is already dramatically reduced; Liberty ended last quarter with about 10,000 patients and revenue of $2.2 million, almost double that of the previous quarter, according to a report by the Motley Fool. Perhaps even more notably, Liberty is developing the largest grow farm in Florida, amounting to about 225,000 square feet. This could push Liberty's stake in the medical marijuana market of Florida to about 20% or more.

CannaRoyalty Corp.

Another Canadian outfit, CannaRoyalty Corp. (CNNRF) began life as an investment company, though it is now focusing on the California legal pot market. CannaRoyalty is aiming to be one of a small number of cannabis distributors in the Californian market. California has thousands of licensed dispensaries, but only a very small number of licensed distributors. If CannaRoyalty is successful in this venture, it stands the chance of being a part of a market which could be larger than that of the entire nation of Canada.

KushCo Holdings

KushCo Holdings (KSHB) is a company that is not directly involved in the growth, production, and distribution of marijuana. Rather, the company is known for tamper- and child-resistant packaging which is popular across the industry. Indeed, KushCo has partnerships with at least 5,000 marijuana companies around the globe. The company works to maintain compliance for retail items, and it is also involved in branding and marketing for growers.

Besides this, KushCo stands out for having recently moved into the hydrocarbon gas and solvent sphere. These industries are related to the development of cannabis oils and concentrates. All told, KushCo has made itself into an indispensable partner of thousands of legal cannabis companies, and it has also avoided any legal or regulatory hassle by not being directly involved in the growth or distribution of marijuana itself.