Court of Appeals affirms superior courts’ dismissals in Cannabis Commission cases
Docket Number: 0000000 , Decision Date: October 12, 2023
Attachment: Click here to download the decision.
Attachment: Click here to download the decision on appeal.
OSAH Judge Stephanie Howells was appointed to adjudicate 21 challenges to the Georgia Access to Medical Cannabis Commission’s awarding of licenses to six vendors to grow, manufacture, and sell low THC oil in the State of Georgia. These proceedings were conducted under the Commission’s own procedures, rather than the Administrative Procedure Act (“APA”).
In decisions issued September 16, 2022, Judge Howells rejected all 21 challenges. Several of the challengers subsequently filed pleadings in superior court, seeking various types of relief. As of October 2023, superior courts have dismissed eight of those challenges for lack of appellate jurisdiction, stating that the APA does not apply to these cases.
On October 12, 2023, the Georgia Court of Appeals affirmed the superior court dismissals, holding that the judicial review provision of the APA does not apply to Cannabis Commission licensing decisions. Specifically, the Court noted that the lower court proceedings did not qualify as “contested cases” under the APA.
The challengers also filed petitions for writs of certiorari in the Superior Court of Fulton County and sought review under the recently enacted Superior and State Court Appellate Practice Act. The Superior Court dismissed three of the challengers’ certiorari actions on procedural grounds, including a failure to perfect service and failure to comply with notice requirements. Seven superior court cases are still stayed pending appellate court action or scheduled for trial.
In a separate action, the Superior Court of Fulton County denied the Georgia First Amendment Foundation’s motion to unseal the records of the cases before Judge Howells, holding that the relevant statutory scheme rendered the Open Records Act inapplicable and no other law or rule required disclosure to non-parties. The Georgia Court of Appeals and the Georgia Supreme Court declined to review the Superior Court’s order.
The superior court orders are available below.
Cumberland Curative, LLC. v. Georgia Access to Medical Cannabis Commission, et al., No. 2022-CV-0122 (Sup. Ct. of Johnson Cnty. Feb. 17, 2023)