My road to becoming a financial journalist was not a straight line. I really began my career in the securities business and even more amusing, got my first job at Merrill Lynch, after meeting a broker on a TV show set where I was working as an actor.
After numerous years in the securities industry and having worked in just about every aspect of Wall Street I had become burned out. I wanted to make a career change, but didn't want to dump all the knowledge I had gained throughout my career.
The one job in the many I had done on Wall Street that I loved the most was as a liaison between the firm's research department and the customers. Talking about the market and public companies was right up my alley. Financial journalism was the perfect marriage of my creative talents and my business background.
After graduating from New York University with a Master's Degree in Business and Economic Reporting, I was hired by TheStreet where I honed my skills as a reporter both on and off camera. I was lucky enough to have Jim Cramer as my mentor and eventually my friend.
Early Days of the Cannabis Industry
During this time, I began to report on the cannabis industry. I was intrigued by these marijuana stocks that had little in the way of real cannabis business, but were trading as if they did. Many of these penny stocks just slapped "cannabis" in the company name and watched their prices soar from unsuspecting investors.
These shady companies were red meat for a business reporter. Sketchy executives, flimsy financials and company stories that read like capitalistic fiction. The narratives were juicy and filled with wrong-doing.
Exposing some of these dodgy companies was why I became a journalist. I liked doing the investigative reporting for small-time investors who had placed their trust in companies that wouldn't warrant coverage from most large newsrooms. I felt I was doing something good for those readers by looking out for them.
That is what the landscape was in the early days of cannabis stocks. There were no Canopy Growth's (CGC) - Get Report or Acreage Holdings (ACRGF) . The companies often missed filing dates and frequently hid as much information as possible.
The OTC Market Group's hands-off approach allowed these companies to flourish. Still, even with all these bad players, I saw what I believed would be the biggest news story of the decade. Not many people in journalism agreed with me.
There were plenty of snickers and bad puns. That didn't matter, because as the industry matured, I could see where it was headed. The news about cannabis treating epilepsy was astonishing and the speed at which states were legalizing adult-use cannabis was a sign that opinions toward cannabis were rapidly changing.
'Grass Ceiling' vs. the Glass Ceiling
Covering cannabis has been absolutely amazing. The CEOs are accessible and the companies open their doors widely. The excitement of all these startups is palpable.
There are also lots of women in the industry. During all my years on Wall Street, I was frequently the only woman in any given meeting. In the early days of the cannabis industry women owned 30% of the companies. Women were having a hard time breaking the glass ceiling, but the grass ceiling was an easy one to penetrate.
A couple of years ago, as a freelance cannabis reporter I became frustrated at not being about to cover cannabis companies with the seriousness I felt they deserved. Most mainstream media only wanted broad stories that skimmed the surface with a silly pot pun title to boot.
That lack of smart financial reporting on cannabis caused me to create the cannabis financial news website Green Market Report. With my partners Cynthia Salarizadeh and Vince Pitetti, we created a media company that is almost two years old and has been covered by other news outlets around the world.
Being an entrepreneur has been challenging and rewarding. I've never worked harder and been so personally stretched. At the same time, I am supremely proud of what we have built and continue to build. This year we are expanding our events calendar with our next conference in Chicago on May 7, followed by Los Angeles and New York. We will be launching a new product within months and are in beta testing for another product.
Cannabis continues to provide exciting stories, medical advancements and yes, scandals galore. I can't imagine another beat as interesting as this one.
Read the latest developments in Cannabis investing from Deb on Real Money.
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At the time of publication, Borchardt had no positions in any securities mentioned.
Read the latest developments in cannabis investing from Debra Borchardt on Real Money.