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Marijuana stock Tilray up 30% after cannabis foe 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 Attorney General Jeff Sessions rescinded the Cole Memo and has opposed legalization.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."

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