On October 12, 2023, the Georgia Court of Appeals dismissed and denied the appeals of companies seeking review of decisions denying them a medical cannabis production license. The appeals concerned a procedural question only and did not address the substantive reasons why the companies appealing believe that they should have been awarded a license.
Georgia’s Hope Act established that the state would award a total of six licenses to companies to produce low-THC oil, a form of medical cannabis. But, more than ten times that many companies applied for those six licenses. Several of the companies that were not awarded one of the limited licenses protested the licensing decisions. Those protests were heard by an administrative law judge, who denied each of the protests.
Of those companies whose protests were denied, some sought to appeal the protest decisions by filing lawsuits in their respective local counties pursuant to Georgia’s Administrative Procedure Act (APA). Nearly all of these APA cases were dismissed as the improper means for appealing such a protest decision. Following the dismissals, the protesting companies then sought review by the Court of Appeals, which affirmed the lower courts’ decisions.
The Court of Appeals decision, in effect, establishes that the way to appeal these protest decisions remains via a petition for writ of certiorari. Most of the protesting companies also filed such certiorari cases, but these cases had been stayed at the protestors’ request pending the outcome of this Court of Appeals’ decision. Many of the certiorari cases, however, now have final hearings set and will likely be decided in the coming months.
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