Pot stock Tilray up 30% after Jeff Sessions resigns under pressure

Shares of major marijuana companies rallied after Attorney General Jeff Sessions resigned Wednesday after months of public criticism from his boss, President Donald Trump.

Canada-based Tilray closed up 30 percent while Canopy Growth and Aurora Cannabis rose 8.1 percent and 9 percent respectively. Cronos Group added 8.4 percent.

“You’re happy if you’re long the cannabis stocks. He was the biggest roadblock to broadening that out to a national conversation,” said Art Hogan, B. Riley FBR chief market strategist.

Sessions, a longtime opponent of attempts to legalize marijuana, lifted an Obama-era policy (known as the Cole Memo) earlier this year that kept federal authorities from cracking down on the pot trade in states where the drug is legal. The former attorney general opted to leave the decision on what to do when state rules conflict with federal drug laws in the hands of prosecutors.

A new Attorney General “could cut either way. Attorney General Jeff Sessions rescinded the Cole Memo and has opposed legalization. Yet the Justice Department under his leadership has not done anything to go after cannabis in states that have legalized,” Vivien Azer, a marijuana analyst at Cowen, wrote Wednesday.

“The President can be very unconventional in his selections. Obvious choices like Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn would be negative for cannabis as the senator is a cannabis opponent,” Azer added. “Yet the President could opt for an unconventional pick. Either way, the best case scenario is a continuation of a lack a Justice Department action.”

Sessions’s resignation comes after Michiganders on Tuesday chose to authorize the legalization of possession, use and cultivation of marijuana products by those who are at least 21 years old. Individuals will now be permitted to possess and use marijuana and marijuana-infused edibles and grow up to 12 marijuana plants for personal consumption. The approved law will impose a 10-ounce limit for marijuana kept at residences and mandate that amounts over 2.5 ounces be secured in locked containers.

Marijuana proponents will also get relief from the the defeat of Rep. Pete Sessions, the Texas Republican who blocked pro-marijuana legislation several times while he was chairman of the House Rules Committee.

Ten states and the District of Columbia have now approved recreational use of pot.