Pot stocks post second-worst day ever as Tilray tumbles

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An exchange-traded fund that tracks popular pot stocks fell sharply on Monday, led by shares of Canadian marijuana company Tilray. Traders pointed to profit taking following the legalization of recreational pot in Canada and the end of big conferences earlier in the month.

The ETFMG Alternative Harvest ETF (MJ) dropped more than 9.2 percent, it's second-worst day ever.

Tilray led the sharp decline in pot stocks, falling more than 15.5 percent. Tilray posted its worst day since Oct. 2, when it dropped 16.25 percent. After the bell the company said it issued $25 million in convertible notes in addition to the $450 million in notes tender earlier in the year.

Toronto-listed Aurora Cannabis and Canopy Growth also contributed to the decline, sliding 12.2 percent and 11.2 percent, respectively.

Pot stocks have recently gained popularity after Tilray CEO Brendan Kennedy told CNBC's Jim Cramer in September that pharmaceutical companies should partner with cannabis producers as a possible hedge against the space.

The MJ ETF, however, is still up more than 24 percent over the past three months despite Monday's losses. It is also up more than 9 percent in the past year.

Traders pointed to a number of reasons for the recent sell-off in cannabis. Several large conferences in the past few weeks, as well as legalization in Canada on Oct. 17, generated excitement in the space and bid up prices, one Canopy Growth shareholder told CNBC. Monday's move may reflect a degree of profit taking, investors said.

Investors may also be raising cash before the the launch of three big U.S.-based cannabis companies on Canadian stock exchanges within the next month, one trader said.

Acreage Holdings, one of the United States’ largest vertically integrated multi-state cannabis operators, announced earlier this year that it had closed Series E funding round, securing $119 million of capital. The company is expected to launch on the Canadian Stock Exchange in early November.