Cannabis stocks surge as US midterm elections, Jeff Sessions resignation bolster hopes for a green wave

Shares of cannabis companies traded broadly higher Wednesday, as U.S. midterm elections are likely to usher in a green wave, with Michigan voting to legalize recreational pot and other states supporting medical marijuana likely just the beginning.

The sector got a further boost after long-time cannabis opponent Attorney General Jeff Sessions resigned “at the request” of President Trump.

The ETFMG Alternative Harvest exchange-traded fund

MJ, +7.06%

shot up 6.2% in late-afternoon, with 33 of 37 components trading higher, putting it on track for a seventh straight gain. The sector tracker has now run up 25% during its win streak.

The Horizons Marijuana Life Sciences ETF

HMMJ, +8.13%

ran up 5.3%, also headed for a seven-day win streak.

Among the most-active stocks, Aurora Cannabis Inc.

ACB, +9.19%

hiked up 6.4%, Canopy Growth Corp.

CGC, +8.17%

tacked on 6.0%, Cronos Group Inc.

CRON, +8.40%

surged 8.4% and Tilray Inc.

TLRY, +30.64%

soared 31%.

Jeff Sessions resignation, coupled with a Democrat-controlled House of Representatives, could prove a boon for the pot industry in the U.S. It was Sessions who rescinded an Obama-era policy used as protection for states that have legalized marijuana.

Don’t miss: Jeff Sessions have delivered a blow to the marijuana industry’s ability to raise capital.

Also read: For Canadia marijuana investors, coming to the U.S. is a ‘crapshoot’ that can end in a lifetime ban.

After Tuesday’s midterm elections, Michigan became the 10th state — and the District of Columbia — which voted to legalize marijuana. Although South Dakota voted down a measure to legalize pot, Missouri and Utah voters supported legalizing it for medicinal use.

But that’s not all. Democrats winning a majority in the House for the first time since cannabis liberalization began marks “a fundamental shift in the U.S. legislative landscape which could usher in a period of positive cannabis reform,” GMP Securities analyst Robert Fagan wrote in a note to clients.

“For instance, Dems will now gain majority control of the powerful House Rules Committee, which previously acted as a dogged gatekeeper of positive cannabis reform for the past 2 years under the oversight of anti-cannabis Republican Pete Sessions,” Fagan wrote, with Sessions losing his House seat from Texas to Democrat Colin Allred.

Don’t miss: Opinion: Marijuana wins in the midterm elections, but the biggest prize is still ahead.

“In our view, these midterm results combined with a strong pipeline of upcoming catalysts should serve to drive a decoupling of valuation multiples for the U.S. cannabis sector to eventually reach a premium over Canadian LP peers,” Fagan wrote.

Canaccord Genuity analyst Bobby Burleson said he believes Michigan is a “particularly important market” given the state’s population. He estimates Michigan’s marijuana market to grow from a value of about $856 million in 2018 to $1.3 billion in 2022.

Gubernatorial wins by a pro-cannabis candidate in Illinois and by the first Democrat in Nevada since 1994 should be viewed as wins for U.S.-based cannabis companies.

Among U.S. companies poised to benefit from Illinois and Nevada results, according to Burleson, shares of MedMen Enterprises Inc.

MMNFF, +5.79%

rallied 7.8% and Planet 13 Holdings Inc

PLNHF, +6.90%

ran up 9.0%.

In other pot stocks, shares of Toronto-based Namaste Technologies Inc.

NXTTF, +4.90%

gained 5.7% after the company said its Cannmart Inc. subsidiary signed an agreement with AgMedica Bioscience Inc. to buy medical cannabis from AgMedica to sell on Cannmart’s online platform. AgMedica is a licensed producer of medical cannabis under the Access to Cannabis for Medical Purposes Regulations (ACMPR), which holds cultivation and sales licenses.

MariMed Inc.’s stock

MRMD, +4.17%

climbed 7.8% after the Massachusetts-based manager of cannabis facilities said it named Charles Finnie, most recently a senior research analyst at Roth Capital Partners, its chief strategy officer, to head up its merger-and-acquisitions, investment and investors relations strategies.

Also read: Everything you need to know about CBD, the cannabis elixir that doesn’t get you high.

Elsewhere, shares of GW Pharmaceuticals PLC

GWPH, +5.65%

gained 6.3%, Aleafia Health Inc.

ALEAF, -5.54%

fell 1.7%, Green Organic Dutchman Holdings Ltd.

TGODF, +1.42%

slipped 0.6%, Hexo Corp.

HYYDF, +3.85%

advanced 2.7% and Supreme Cannabis Co. Inc.

SPRWF, +4.96%

advanced 5.7%.

The ETFMG ETF has now run up 37% over the past three months and the Horizons ETF has soared 40%, while the S&P 500 index

SPX, +2.12%

has lost 1.8%.

Check out: MarketWatch’s comprehensive coverage of the cannabis sector, including profiles of a number of key players, in one place.

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