Ballard Partners launches national cannabis practice group

Cbd Concept, Medical Marijuana, cannabis and blue background
Courtney Coppola and Eugene O’Flaherty will lead the practice.

Ballard Partners on Tuesday announced the launch of a national practice group devoted to representing cannabis industry clients in legislative and regulatory matters.

The firm, one of the largest and most successful at the state and federal levels, has tapped partners Courtney Coppola and Eugene O’Flaherty to lead the new venture.

“Our firm currently represents the largest cannabis retailer in the nation along with many other clients with significant interests in this industry,” said Brian Ballard, the firm’s founder and president. “Under Courtney and Gene’s leadership, our Cannabis Practice Group will provide invaluable counsel and assistance to clients throughout the country.”

Coppola joined Ballard Partners earlier this month. She most recently served as Deputy Chief of Staff to Gov. Ron DeSantis, though she previously worked as Director of Florida’s Office of Medical Marijuana Use.

During her time leading the office, it licensed Florida’s 22 vertically integrated operators, registered more than half a million medical patients and enrolled thousands of certifying physicians, quickly transforming Florida into one of the largest marijuana markets in the country.

“The cannabis industry in the United States has developed with conflicting and evolving policies at the federal state and local level. Our new practice group will help clients navigate the complexity of these ever-changing policies,” Coppola said.

O’Flaherty, who joined the firm when it expanded to Boston last year, was a member of the Massachusetts Legislature and served as Chair of the House Judiciary Committee from 2002 through 2013. The position saw him handle all bills related to the legalization of medical and recreational cannabis — Massachusetts voters approved medical cannabis in 2012 and recreational cannabis in 2016.

He later became Corporation Counsel for the city of Boston, where he was tasked with establishing and supervising the office that implemented the new law and processed applications for cannabis dispensaries in the city. O’Flaherty also wrote the regulations and transferred the cannabis process to the city’s Licensing Commission and established the Cannabis Control Board which today processes and licenses all cannabis applications in Boston.

Ballard Partners’ roster includes several other advocates with experience in the growing industry, including Dan McFaul, who Business Insider recognized as one of the top cannabis lobbyists in Washington; Wansley Walters, who has assisted a client with dispensaries in different states in establishing a cannabis research partnership with a public university; Stephanie Grutman, who represents several clients seeking conditional use permits from local governments throughout Florida; Justin Sayfie,  represented one of the first publicly traded cannabis firms in the country; Brady Benford, who represents several firms seeking a Medical Marijuana Treatment License in Florida; and Adam Goodman, the Edward R. Murrow Senior Fellow from Tufts University and an award-winning film and commercial producer who has backed legalization efforts in Florida.

Drew Wilson

Drew Wilson covers legislative campaigns and fundraising for Florida Politics. He is a former editor at The Independent Florida Alligator and business correspondent at The Hollywood Reporter. Wilson, a University of Florida alumnus, covered the state economy and Legislature for LobbyTools and The Florida Current prior to joining Florida Politics.


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