A lawyer I know once told me that the primary motivation behind drafting a contract should not be making each party’s obligations clear or negotiating better terms, but instead should be ensuring that when there is litigation, that party is in the best possible position to win. Having written and litigated numerous contracts, I could not agree more. There is so much that parties can miss if they are not looking forward towards inevitable disputes. But an even better way to put oneself in a terrible position in a dispute (and to cause more disputes) is to do handshake deals.
For those of you who aren’t lawyers, there are two main types of contract: written contracts and oral agreements (i.e., handshake deals). There can also be some kinds of implied contracts, but I won’t get into that here. Decades ago, people did not enter into written cannabis agreements for very obvious reasons. But from a modern lawyer’s point of view, there are almost zero circumstances in which parties should still enter into oral agreements. In fact, there are numerous reasons why parties should not do so, and I’ll flag some of the more important ones below. All in all,