Cannabis Practice Group


Navigating an Emerging Landscape


The cannabis industry in the United States has seen explosive growth in recent years despite a challenging environment of conflicting and ever-changing policies at all levels of government. For many years, Ballard Partners has represented some of the largest cannabis operators in multiple jurisdictions at the local, state and federal levels. Our experienced team of professionals can help your organization navigate a wide array of emerging and complex issues with government decision makers.

Practice Areas:

  • Government Relations Strategy
  • Financial Reforms for the Industry
  • Licensing Applications and Regulatory Compliance
  • Research Collaborations
  • Conditional Use Permitting
  • Media and Public Relations
COURTNEY COPPOLA
PARTNER & CO-CHAIR, CANNABIS PRACTICE GROUP
TALLAHASSEE

COURTNEY COPPOLA

Courtney has spent her career implementing new government programs, managing emergent priorities, and providing guidance and policy direction to executives at the highest levels of government.

Prior to joining Ballard Partners, Courtney served as Deputy Chief of Staff to Governor Ron DeSantis. Under the Governor’s leadership, Courtney oversaw the following agencies, offices, and initiatives: the Department of Health; the Agency for Health Care Administration; the Department of Children and Families; the Division of Emergency Management; the Department of Military Affairs; the Department of Elder Affairs; the Agency for Persons with Disabilities; the Department of Veterans Affairs; the Guardian ad Litem program; and the Office of Adoption and Child Protection.

Courtney previously served as the Chief of Staff at the Department of Health. In her role she directed day-to-day operations and planning for the department and county health departments statewide, and directly supervised the Offices of Communications, Legislative Planning, and Executive Appointments. Courtney also led the department’s actions as part of Florida’s Unified Command Executive Team in response to COVID-19.

Prior to her appointment as Chief of Staff, Courtney served as the Director of Florida’s medical marijuana program. Courtney joined the Office of Medical Marijuana Use in its infancy and quickly rose through the ranks taking the helm as director in 2018. During her tenure, the Office licensed Florida’s first regulated marijuana companies, registered more than half a million patients and enrolled thousands of certifying physicians quickly transforming Florida into one of the largest marijuana markets in the country.

Courtney began her career in state government at the Executive Office of the Governor under Governor Rick Scott in the Office of Fiscal Accountability and Regulatory Reform where she served as the policy analyst and was responsible for reviewing executive agency regulations to determine whether they adversely impacted job creation, imposed burdensome regulations or costs on businesses, or unreasonably restricted the ability of individual citizens to find employment.

Originally from Destin, Courtney earned a Bachelor of Science in Political Science, and Master of Science in Applied American Politics and Policy from Florida State University. She also serves on the Florida Gubernatorial Fellows Alumni Board and remains involved in recruitment and mentoring for the program.

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EUGENE O’FLAHERTY
PARTNER & CO-CHAIR, CANNABIS PRACTICE GROUP
BOSTON

EUGENE O’FLAHERTY

Eugene O’Flaherty was appointed to the role of Corporation Counsel for the City of Boston in January 2014. In his role as Corporation Counsel, Eugene was the chief legal officer for former Boston Mayor Martin Walsh, President Biden’s newly confirmed Secretary of Labor. Eugene served as a senior cabinet advisor to the Mayor of Boston and was responsible for providing high-quality and effective legal advice and representation on all legal matters involving the Mayor, Boston City Council, all City Departments and Boards & Commissions. In that role he managed an office of 60 Attorneys, paralegals and administrative staff. As a cabinet member, Eugene was also part of a mayoral administration whose work has resulted in the largest growth of development in Boston’s recent history.

Prior to his appointment, Eugene served in the Massachusetts House of Representatives for seventeen years and has been practicing law since 1994. Elected to the Massachusetts Legislature in 1996, O’Flaherty served on the Education Committee and as Vice-Chairman of the Banks and Banking Committee before being appointed to serve as the Chair of the House Judiciary Committee in 2002.

During his twelve-year tenure at the helm of the Judiciary Committee, Eugene was responsible for the drafting, review and implementation of the largest number of legislative proposals before the Massachusetts Legislature. He was the chief architect of the overhaul of impaired driving statutes, court reorganization legislation, stronger sex offender statutes, tougher penalties for violent habitual offenders, CORI reform and human trafficking.  Eugene also repeatedly defeated attempts to reinstate the death penalty in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

In addition to his legislative duties, Eugene served as a member of the House Leadership Team for more than a decade and under three successive Speakers of the House and played a pivotal role in advising, advocating for and polling the 160-member House on a wide variety of legislative issues involving economic development, education, health care, gaming, and revenue.

Eugene oversaw the legislation and led the discussions required for the implementation of the Goodridge decision, which legalized gay marriage, making Massachusetts the first state in the United States of America to do so and served as the House of Representative’s lead negotiator on a number of complex and high-profile conference committee negotiations with the Senate and Executive Branch.

Eugene spearheaded the sister city agreement between Boston and Belfast, Northern Ireland which results in annual exchanges and visits by elected officials and members of the business community and organized the Friendship Four Hockey Tournament that annually brings four American university teams to compete in Belfast for the BelPot Trophy during the Thanksgiving holiday. The tournament has been acknowledged as crucial in continuing initiatives to support the peace process there.

Known affectionately in Massachusetts political circles simply as “Gene-O”, Eugene was honored for excellence in his efforts by the Massachusetts Bar Association, Boston Bar Association, Massachusetts Academy of Trial Attorneys, Massachusetts Legal Assistance, Children’s Trust Fund, Massachusetts Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, Animal Rescue League to name a few.

Eugene is the youngest of five boys and the only member of his immediate family born in the United States. Eugene lives in Boston with his wife Patricia and their large extended families. Eugene is most proud of being a loving Uncle to his many nieces and nephews.

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BRADY J. BENFORD
PARTNER
TALLAHASSEE

BRADY J. BENFORD

With 15 years of experience in government relations, Brady Benford is a well-respected professional among his peers and legislators. He has advocated before the Legislative and Executive branches on a variety of high-profile issues such as casino gaming, pari-mutuel wagering, tobacco, alcohol, retail convenience stores, telecommunications and health care.

Brady has previously served as the Governmental Affairs Director for two of Florida’s major law firms. During that time, he represented a wide array of clients, including several Fortune 500 companies before the Legislature, Cabinet, Executive Agencies and other governmental entities. He also managed the firm’s regulated industries practice and advised clients on extensive legislative and executive issues, as well as campaign participation strategy on numerous statewide and local efforts.

Brady also previously served as the President of Benford and Associates, where he was the principal lobbyist at the firm and managed multiple clients and associations. He has also worked for the Republican Party of Florida, Senate and House campaigns and managed the absentee ballot program in the Central Florida area during the 2000 presidential election.

Brady received his Bachelor of Science in Biological Sciences from Florida State University.

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STEPHANIE GRUTMAN ZAUDER
MANAGING PARTNER
FORT LAUDERDALE, WASHINGTON DC

STEPHANIE GRUTMAN ZAUDER

Stephanie is a Florida-based government relations, public affairs, and fundraising professional. She has worked in all aspects of Florida Government is known for her unyielding work ethic and innovative approach. Politics Magazine listed her as “One of the Most Influential Democrats in Florida” and her ground-breaking work encouraging women to vote early was highlighted in Newsweek Magazine and on the cover of the St. Petersburg Times.

Stephanie began her career nearly 20 years ago as a senior aide to then State Representative now Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz. Stephanie went on to serve as the Executive Director of a statewide health care association where she ran the day-to-day operations of 501c(3) and 501c(4) organizations.

In 2009, she was tapped by then Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink to serve as her Deputy Chief of Staff and restructure the day-to-day operations of the CFO’s Capitol Office. She oversaw 5 departments, assisted the Chief of Staff and Deputy CFOs with department operations, and served as a senior advisor to the Communications, Legislative Affairs, and Cabinet Affairs departments.

Stephanie served as the Finance Director for the Senate Democratic Caucus under Florida Senate Democratic Leaders Nan Rich, Chris Smith, and Arthenia Joyner. In 2012, under her leadership, the Senate Democrats had historic success: raising more money than ever before and increasing their caucus by 2 seats for the first time since 1983. Over the years Stephanie worked on dozens of local, state, and federal campaigns. She is a second-generation Miami native with deep roots throughout the South Florida community. Stephanie lives in Broward County with her husband Jason Zauder and their young children Brooke and Adam.

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DAN MCFAUL
PARTNER
WASHINGTON DC

DAN MCFAUL

Dan McFaul has been involved with more than 30 federal, state, and local campaigns in the last two decades, including races for Congress, U.S. Senate, and Governor, as well as Presidential campaigns. He served as campaign manager to Congressman Joe Scarborough in 1996 and 2000. In 1998, he worked as a Senior Field Analyst for the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) and consulted on eight Congressional campaigns in the Southeast and Ohio River Valley.

Dan served on the staff of U.S. Rep. Joe Scarborough of Florida from 1997-2001, rising to the position of Legislative Director. He became the Chief of Staff and Communications Director for Congressman Jeff Miller on Oct. 16th 2001, when Miller was sworn into office. Prior to Miller’s election, Dan was Miller’s campaign manager during the 2001 special election cycle.

Dan was a member of the Presidential Transition Team for then President-elect Donald J. Trump. In this capacity, Dan worked on the Appointments Team responsible for recruiting and vetting potential appointees to the incoming Administration, specifically for the Department of Defense, the Department of Veterans Affairs, the Armed Services, and the Intelligence community.

A native of Pensacola, Dan graduated from the University of Florida with a bachelor’s degree in Political Science and Public Relations. He later completed a Master’s Degree in Public Administration at the University of West Florida. Dan lives in Washington, D.C. with his wife, Jessica, and their three children.

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WANSLEY WALTERS
PARTNER & CO-CHAIR, BALLARD PARTNERS' PUBLIC POLICY TEAM
TALLAHASSEE

WANSLEY WALTERS

Wansley Walters is the former Secretary for the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice. As a nationally recognized leader in the field of juvenile justice and a long standing child advocate, she pioneered the reform of the largest comprehensive juvenile justice system in the country in the administration of Governor Rick Scott. Under her leadership, the agency implemented strategies that have reduced the juvenile crime statewide and the number of children in detention and residential care as well as expanding civil citations for first time misdemeanors statewide. She finished her tenure with the 2014 Florida Legislature unanimously passing legislation that ensures the continuation of the reforms.

Wansley was previously the Director of the Miami-Dade County Juvenile Services Department, which included the operation of the largest Juvenile Assessment Center (JAC) in Florida. The center was the focal point for a 10 year National Demonstration Project with the U.S. Department of Justice on juvenile justice reform that was showcased in a 2009 White House Summit in Miami. She served as the Special Assistant to two Directors of the Miami-Dade Police Department.

Wansley served for seven years as the Chair of the Florida Children and Youth Cabinet under Governor Scott. In November 2012 she was one of eight recipients of the 2012 Juvenile Justice Without Borders International Award presented by the International Juvenile Justice Observatory (IJJO) during the International Youth Justice Convention in London. The IJJO grants the award once every two years to individuals and organizations for outstanding achievements in juvenile justice research, advocacy and intervention under the auspices of the United Nations.

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