Richard M. Blau Attorney At Law


Richard M. Blau - Attorney at Law

Regulated Products Section Chair

T 813.273.5000
F 813.273.5145
D 813.273.5128
Tampa 401 East Jackson Street Suite 2700 Tampa, Florida 33602

Richard presides over GrayRobinson’s regulated products practice and oversees the firm’s legal guidance, compliance, and support services for the alcohol beverage, cannabis, food, and tobacco products industries. Richard and his colleagues focus on the rules, regulations, and business practices that govern the marketing, sale, and consumption of distilled spirits, wine, beer and other licensed beverages.

As a trial lawyer with over 20 years of experience, Richard has litigated jury and bench trials in state and federal courts. In the area of alcohol beverage regulation, he successfully litigated on behalf of manufacturers, setting important precedents for the industry in Geary Distributing Co. v. All Brand Importers, Inc. (imposing constitutional limits on the application of a state beer franchise law) and in Jim Taylor Corp. v. Guinness Import Co. (defining "brand extension" under Florida law).

Richard works with all three tiers of the alcohol beverage industry. He has represented international importers and domestic manufacturers, statewide wholesaler trade groups and regional distributors, and retailers (including multistate restaurant and hotel chains) across the United States. Richard and the firm's Alcohol Industry Team service retail licensees in a variety of ways, including liquor, tobacco and lottery licensing; health and food service inspection compliance; responsible vendor and employee training; representation in administrative proceedings; and litigation/dispute resolution.

Richard also works closely with representatives of state and federal government, drafting administrative rules and proposed legislation – both on behalf of clients and at the request of regulators. For example, he prepared an administrative regulation and statutory amendment at the request of the Florida Division of Alcoholic Beverages and Tobacco, to codify the impact of a judicial decision that he successfully obtained on behalf of a client. He has testified before governmental bodies, such as the New York State Assembly, regarding alcohol laws and related issues. Richard counseled legislators of Hawaii on the effects of the U.S. Supreme Court's landmark decision in Granholm v. Heald and recently testified before legislative committees of both the Florida Senate and the House of Representatives regarding issues relating to the direct shipment of wine.

For over a decade, Richard annually has edited the nationwide Survey of Reported Judicial Decisions Addressing the 21st Amendment and Related Alcohol Laws for the American Bar Association and the National Conference of State Liquor Administrators. Since 1998, he also has authored the chapter "Beverage Alcohol Practice" for the annual Developments in Administrative Law and Regulatory Practice published by the American Bar Association. Other publications by Richard include a chapter titled "The Role of the Food and Beverage Attorney" for the anthology Best Practices for Alcohol Beverage, Food and Drug Law, which was published by Aspatore Books; an article co-authored with U.S. Sen. Connie Mack (R-Fla.) titled "The Need for Fair Play: Repealing the Federal Baseball Antitrust Exemption," which was published by the Florida Law Review of the University of Florida's College of Law; a paper, "The Competency and Credibility of Children as Witnesses," which was delivered to the World Conference on Police Psychology at the FBI Academy in Quantico, Virginia; and "Speedy Trial: Pre-accusation Delay, Post-accusation Delay, and the Speedy Trial Act of 1975," which was published in the Georgetown Law Journal. Articles related specifically to alcohol industry issues that Richard has authored are listed below.

Awarded the highest rating assigned by Martindale-Hubbell (AV), Richard devotes a substantial portion of his practice to trade regulation, litigation and dispute resolution involving the hospitality industry. He has industry-specific experience in the areas of administrative practice and regulatory compliance, advertising and promotional law, intellectual property rights, importation matters, supplier/distribution relations, and alcohol industry business practices. Richard's proficiency has been recognized by Chambers and Partners (Richard is ranked "Band 1" for Food and Beverage Law), as well as listed repeatedly and currently in peer-ranking publications such as Super Lawyers and Florida Trend's "Legal Elite." 

Richard has achieved the following peer-related accolades for his legal work:

  • Chambers and Partners – nationally ranked as "Band 1" for Food and Beverage Law
  • Best Lawyers in America – listed for Food and Beverage Law
  • Martindale-Hubbell Law Directory – awarded the highest rating (AV)
  • The American Law Institute – elected member
  • The Academy of Hospitality Industry Attorneys – elected member
  •  Super Lawyers – elected member
  • Background

    Richard is a member of The Florida Bar, The District of Columbia Bar, the New York State Bar, the American Bar Association, the Federal Bar Association and the American Association for Justice. He recently concluded six years of service as the chair of the American Bar Association's Committee on Beverage Alcohol Practice and is a member of the Academy of Hospitality Industry Attorneys (AHIA). He also is an industry member of the National Conference of State Liquor Administrators (NCSLA) as well as the National Alcohol Beverage Control Association (NABCA), and lectures on 21st Amendment issues before regulators at annual meetings of both organizations as well as the National Liquor Law Enforcement Association (NLLEA)

    Richard is admitted to practice law in the following courts: U.S. Supreme Court, U.S. Court of International Trade, U.S. Courts of Appeals for the 11th and Federal circuits, U.S. District Courts for the Middle and Southern districts of Florida, U.S. Court of Military Appeals, Florida Supreme Court, the New York Court of Appeals and the District of Columbia Court of Appeals. Additionally, he is an elected member of the American Law Institute.

    Richard earned his bachelor of arts degree in 1979 from Brandeis University and his juris doctor in 1982 from the Georgetown University Law Center, where he served as associate editor for topics of the Georgetown Law Journal. Prior to joining GrayRobinson, he was a partner at Holland and Knight LLP, where he originated that firm's alcohol beverage law practice.

  • Education
    • Brandeis University, B.A. (1979)
    • Georgetown University Law Center, J.D. (1982) 
  • Admissions
    • Florida
    • District of Columbia
    • U.S. Supreme Court
    • U.S. Court of International Trade
    • U.S. Courts of Appeal for the 11th and Federal Circuits
    • U.S. District Court, Middle District of Florida
    • U.S. District Court, Southern District of Florida 
    • U.S. Court of Military Appeal s
    • Florida Supreme Court
    • New York State Court of Appeals
    • District of Columbia Court of Appeals 
  • Professional Associations and Memberships
    • American Bar Association
      • Committee on Beverage Alcohol Practice Chair, 1996-present
    • Uniform Law Commission Drafting Committee
      • American Bar Association Advisor, 2020
    • The Florida Bar (Chair, Grievance Committee 13-A, 1990-1992)
    • Hillsborough County Bar Association
    • The American Law Institute (Elected Member, 1995-present)
    • The National Conference of State Liquor Administrators (Industry Member, 1989-present; Executive Committee Member, 2003-present)
    • The Academy of Hospitality Industry Attorneys (2001-present)
      • Board of Directors
    • Craft Beverage Lawyers Guild, Founding Member 
  • Civic
    • Feeding America Tampa Bay, Board of Directors, Chair, 2014
  • Awards and Recognitions
    • AV Preeminent® rated by Martindale-Hubbell
    • Chambers USA
      • National, Food and Beverages: Alcohol, 2008-2021
      • National, Cannabis Law, 2019-2021
    • Best Lawyers in America, Food and Beverage Law, 2011-2022
    • Florida Super Lawyers, 2006-2021
    • Florida Trend, Legal Elite, 2006-2010
    • Daily Business Review, Top Florida Cannabis Attorney, 2019
    • Tampa Top Rated Lawyer, Alcohol Beverage, 2013
    • National Conference of State Liquor Administrators (NCSLA)
      • Hall of Fame, 2019
  • Articles and Publications
    • "Biden Launches 'Rural Playbook' for Expanded Relief to AG- America Part 2," April 21, 2022
    • "Biden Launches 'Rural Playbook' for Expanded Relief to AG- America," April 14, 2022
    • "Alcohol Industry Competitiveness," February 9, 2022
    • "TTBS Continuing Modernization of Federal Alcohol Beverage Labeling and Advertising Regulations," February 9, 2022
    • "USDA Deadline Extension to Enroll in Dairy Margin Coverage and Supplemental Dairy Margin Coverage Programs," February 9, 2022
    • "Poultry Farmers Alert: HPAI Avian Flu Confirmed in U.S.," January 18, 2022
    • "Alcohol Beverage Lines Continue to Blur," January 7, 2022
    • "Starting 2022 Off Right: The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act Includes Significant Funding for Bringing Broadband Access to Rural America," December 29, 2021
    • "4 Ways Cannabis Impacts Personal Insurance Lines," October 4, 2021
    • "USDA Support Payments Now Available for Farmers Affected by The Pandemic," October 4, 2021
    • "How Biden's Competition Order Helps Independent Farms," Law360, July 13, 2021
    • "The Florida Supreme Court Rejects Florigrown’s Constitutional Challenge To The State’s Vertical Licensure System For Medical Marijuana," Cannabis Law Journal, July 8, 2021
    • "Fla. High Court Keeps Tight Grip On Medical Pot Licenses," Law360, June 4, 2021
    • "Most Distilleries That Registered to Produce Hand Sanitizer After January 27, 2020 Will Be Exempt from FDA Fees," March 26, 2021
    • "New York Lawmakers Successfully Agree On Terms to Legalize Recreational Marijuana," March 25, 2021
    • "U.S. House of Representatives Votes to Legalize Marijuana!" December 2020
    • "Adios, Cigarros Cubanos (And Alcohol Too, Mi Amigos and Amigas)!", October 2020
    • "Florida is the Latest State to Consider Making Cocktails-To-Go Permanent," September 2020
    • "All Branches of the US Armed Forces Formally Ban Use of Hemp and CBD Products," September 2020
    • "EPA Directed to Deny Biofuel Waivers to Domestic Oil Refiners," September 2020
    • "COVID-19 in Rural America Jeopardizes America’s Food Chain and Requires Greater Federal Support," September 2020
    • "Trump Administration Rejects Habitat Designation for Endangered Rusty Patch Bumble Bee," September 2020
    • "USDA to Convene a Virtual Town Hall on Salmonella," August 2020
    • "Medical Marijuana Recall Warrants Greater OMMU Disclosure," August 2020
    • Five to Watch in the Cannabis Industry," August 2020
    • "HEROES Act has Important Benefits for American Farmers and Farmworkers," July 2020
    • "USDA Adds Commodities Eligible for Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP)," July 2020
    • "FDA Will Resume Domestic Inspections in Late July," July 2020
    • "The USMCA and America’s Alcohol Industry," July 2020
    • "A Step Forward for Cannabis Legitimacy: FinCEN Issues Guidance for Hemp Related Businesses," June 2020
    • "Washington State Leads the Way to Greater Farm Worker Safety," June 2020
    • "As the Industry Develops, Cannabis and CBD Producers Sail Into the Dangerous Shoals of Product Recalls," May 2020
    • "The Future of CBD and Medical Marijuana In Public Schools," May 2020
    • "ACT NOW! Federal COVID-19 Support for Food Producers," May 2020
    • "Fight COVID-19 by Supporting Farmworkers and Truckers," April 2020
    • "The Increasing Frequency of Grocery and Restaurant Bankruptcies: Canaries In America’s Economic Coal Mine?" January 2020
    • "New York's New Hemp Extract Law and the CBD Marketplace," January 2020
    • "For the First Time, EPA Approves Pesticides for Use in Cultivating Hemp," January 2020
    • "Pending SAFE Banking Act Would Legitimize Marijuana- Related Businesses," New York Daily Weed Report, December 2019
    • "TTB Issues New Priorities for FY 2020," November 2019
    • "USDA Issues New Regulation Creating the Domestic Hemp Production Program," October 2019
    • "CBD Marketplace: How Should We Navigate It?" Food Safety Tech, September 2019
    • "THE SUPREME COURT SPEAKS: Tennessee Wine and Spirits Retailers Assn. v. Thomas," June 2019
    • "THE SUPREME COURT SPEAKS: Iancu v. Brunetti," June 2019
    • "Where Does the Law Stand on Producing Foods and Beverages Containing Cannabidiol (CBD)?" May 2019
    • "FSIS Reforms to Include Removal of Dual Labeling Requirements for Certain Quantities of Meat and Poultry Products," April 2019
    • "Congress Agrees on 2018 Farm Bill," December 2018
    • "USDA Alert - Last Chance to Answer Agriculture Census," July 2018
    • "FDA Issues First Ever Approval for Plant-Based Pharmaceutical Cannabidiol Product to Treat Seizures in Patients with Severe Forms of Epilepsy," June 2018
    • "Salmonella Risks Resurface as Fresh Cut Melon Products Recalled," June 2018
    • "TTB Clarifies its Position on Cannabis/Marijuana as an Ingredient in Alcohol Beverages," May 2018
    • "FDA Advisory Committee Issues First Ever Approval for Plant-Based Pharmaceutical Cannabidiol Product to Treat Seizures in Patients with Severe Forms of Epilepsy," April 2018
    • "Taking Food Certification to the Next Level: From "Organic" to "Regenerative Organic," March 2018
    • "Aluminum Tariffs and Trade Wars: Impact on the Beer Industry, and Perhaps Much More," March 2018
    • "SNAP vs. America’s Harvest Boxes: A Battle to Safeguard Food Security in the United States," March 2018
    • "America's Farmers and Ranchers: The 2017 Agriculture Census Needs Your Input," February 2018
    • "Bumble Bee Foods Consents to Relabeling Smoked Salmon Products in Order to Avoid Class Action Lawsuit," February 2018
    • "New York Governor's Executive Budget Includes Benefits for State Alcohol Industry," January 2018
    • "Congress Launches the Precision Agriculture Connectivity Act of 2018," January 2018
    • "Alcohol and Marijuana: California ABC Issues New Guidance on the Interplay Between the Alcohol and Cannabis Industries," January 2018
    • "TTB Starts 2018 with Guidance on How to Pay FET Using New Alcohol Tax Rates," January 2018
    • "2018 Starts Strong with New Alcohol Legal Developments," January 2018
    • "Multistate Outbreak of E. coli O157:H7 Infections Could Be Linked To Romaine Lettuce," January 2018
    • "UPDATE: The Tax Cut Bill Signed Into Law," December 2017
    • " Understanding the Current State of the Pesticide Dicamba," November 2017
    • "FDA Issues New Warning Letters To Four CBD Products Companies," November 2017
    • "Fruits And Vegetables With Higher Potassium Levels May Help Reduce Arterial Sclerosis And Calcification," Fintech Focus, October 2017
    • "Brewery Recycling: New Process Converts Spent Brewery Grains Into Beer Yeast," Fintech Focus, September 2017
    • "Update 2017 Unified Agenda of Federal Regulatory and Deregulatory Actions Identifies Two Rule-Making Priorities for TTB," September 2017
    • "Initial Congressional "Listening Session" For 2018 Farm Bill Scheduled For Florida," Fintech Focus, June 2017
    • "The California ABC Wins One For The Gipper’s State Tied-House Laws," June 2017
    • "DEA’s Final Rule Listing Marijuana Derivatives As Schedule I Drugs May Prohibit Hemp-Infused Beverages," June 2017
    • "At Last: Scientific Evidence Of Marijuana’s Medicinal Potential Begins To Appear," May 2017
    • "GrayRobinson Ends Florida 2017 Legislative Session with Major Alcohol Accomplishments," May 2017
    • "Scientists Publish New Study Analyzing How Bread Aromas And Tastes Interact To Produce Flavor," May 2017
    • "What A Week! Recent Events Impacting the Legalization of Marijuana," January 2017
    • "The Future of Cannabidiol Oil, Hemp and Other Cannabis-related Products," January 2017
    • "China's Wine Imports Grow Dramatically Without U.S.," December 2016
    • "Trump's Cabinet Picks: Too Soon for Doom?" December 2016
    • "Marijuana Legalization and the 2016 Election," November 2016
    • "FDA’s Next Action on Defining ‘Natural’ for Food Labeling Purposes Remains Unclear," July, 2016
    • "TTB Steps Up: New Agency Ruling Makes Clear That Tied-House Exception for Shelf Plans and Schematics Does Not Encompass Broader Service by Distributors," Fintech Focus, February, 2016
    • "Counting Calories: Many Restaurants and Vending Machines Will Soon Be Required to List Calorie Information on Their Menus," Beverage World, October, 2015
    • "What's in it for you? The "State-Action" Exemption to Federal Antitrust Law and The U.S. Supreme Court’s Decision of North Carolina Board of Dental Examiners v. Federal Trade Commission," Fintech Focus, May 2015
    • "Craft Brewing and the Alternating Proprietorship," Fintech Focus, March, 2015
    • "Drunk Driving Rates Continue to Fall," Fintech Focus, February, 2015
    • "The Rapid Revolution in Craft Distilling, and What's Ahead in 2015, Fintech Focus, January 2015
    • "Beverage Alcohol Practice" in Developments in Administrative Law and Regulatory Practice 2005-2006, ABA Publishing 2007
    • "The Role of the Food and Beverage Attorney," Best Practices for Alcohol Beverage, Food and Drug Law, 2006
    • "USDA Pulls Plug on Federal Funding For Florida's Citrus Canker Eradication Program," March 2006
    • "GOT MILK? For Students, and School Administrators," It's Not a Simple Question, March 2006
    • "U.S. Supreme Court Decides Direct Shipment of Wine Case," November 2005
    • "Binge Drinking on Campus: Be Aware of the Legal Restrictions on Coping With Excessive Alcohol Consumption," October 18, 2004
    • "California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control Penalty Guideline Emergency Rule; Effective April 14, 2004," June 9, 2004
    • "The Supreme Court's Tobacco Ruling May Foretell Future of Beverage Alcohol Advertising Restrictions," October 22, 2001
    • "Why State Regulators Require Fingerprints, Personal Questionnaires, and Detailed Financial Information Before They Will Issue Alcohol Beverage License," March 23, 2001
    • "Increasing Beer Consumption Concerns Russian Government," February 26, 2001
    • "Debates Continue Over Liability for Deaths Caused by On-Campus 'Binge Drinking'," November 22, 2000
    • "President Clinton Signs Twenty-first Amendment Enforcement Act," November 22, 2000
    • "Wyoming Narrowly Rejects Efforts To Further Restrict Internet Sales Of Alcohol," November 22, 2000
    • "Georgia's New Direct Shipping Law Goes Into Effect," September 1, 2000
    • "ATF Now Requires Filled Representative Sample Bottles For Certain COLA Applications," September 1, 2000
    • "Business Consolidation Trends Expand Into Wine Industry," September 1, 2000
    • "Oregon Adopts Responsible Vendor Program," September 1, 2000
    • "Update Your IP Policies To Address Distance Learning And Avoid Disputes," August 1, 2000
    • "Oregon Adopts "Responsible Vendor" Program," June 1, 2000
    • "Will The Internet End The 3-Tier System?," June 1, 2000
    • "Politicians Ring in The New Year With Various Alcohol Initiatives," March 1, 2000
    • "NYC's DWI Seizure Scheme Survives Initial Judicial Review," December 19, 1999
    • "Massachusetts Colleges Ordered to Notify Parents When Students Violate School Alcohol Policies," December 19, 1999
    • "Wisconsin Governor Splits on Wine-Spirits Franchise Law," September 1, 1999 
  • Presentations and Seminars
    • "Legal Update," National Conference of State Liquor Administrators 2021 Annual Conference, August 28, 2021
    • "The Cannabis Industry is Bigger Than You Think," 30th Anniversary Florida Venture Capital Conference, March 4, 2021
    • "Restoring Bilateral Trade Between Canada and Florida," GrayRobinson Webinar, March 11, 2021