Avoiding drafting blunders

The field of marijuana taxation turned into the field of cannabis revenue, and now it’s getting down to the level of Technical Corrections. Keith Humphreys explains a Prop 64 drafting blunder. (https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2016/11/16/the-marijuana-initiative-blunder-that-could-cost-california-millions/).

No one’s perfect. I do some proofreading and editing for hire, and I encourage hiring other readers, for important jobs.

The way to avoid costly blunders is to let lots of eyes look at the language.

“Pioneer 1”  comments at the site above:  “Poor drafting is a hallmark of legislation at all levels of government. No editing, no real oversight by the sponsoring groups or legislators. This happens at the federal level all the time and often results in years of expensive litigation to no real purpose other than to assign meaning to bad drafting. Competent lawyers draft more-complicated private documents all the time, but for some reason their lessons are rarely used in government. There are many times where ambiguity in legislative drafting is a feature sought by the drafters.”

++++

But ambiguity was not sought in this case, so far as I know.  The drafters indicated an intent the BOE did not find.

 

 

 

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Author: patoglesby

From 1982 to 1990, I worked in tax policy for Committees of the United States Congress. In recent years, I was Adjunct Lecturer at UNC-Chapel Hill's Business School and then Adjunct Professor at its Law School.

1 thought on “Avoiding drafting blunders”

  1. Congrats on making the news! It was a surprise to hear Richard Miadich try to defend that the exemption started in 2018, when the law he wrote so clearly says otherwise. Even the BOE didn’t even wait for test litigation to announce its position on the exemption!

    The other drafting concern was to include this exemption as 34011(g) instead of where all the Sales and Use Tax exemptions are generally stored (i.e. Chapter 4 of Part 1 of Division 2 of Revenue and Taxation Code). This odd drafting choice clearly caused him some confusion in adequately conveying the effective dates of the tax and exemption.

    With a long list of state and local taxes taking effect, will this “blunder” lead to a heightened feeling of sticker shock on Jan 1, 2018? What’s the likelihood that most consumers will stop looking to untaxed black/grey market sales after 01/01/2018?

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