SALEM, MA — The Massachusetts Cannabis Control Commission issued new rules Monday and started accepting applications for “priority certification” of marijuana businesses. The new rules impact Salem, which has already approved local regulations for retail marijuana sales and has begun special permit hearings for businesses that want to begin selling recreational marijuana later this year.

Under the state rules released Monday, Salem will be able to grant a total of five special permits for recreational marijuana sales. One of those permits will automatically go to Alternative Therapies Group, which has been operating a medical marijuana dispensary in Salem for three years. Three other groups have applied for special permits, and more are expected now that the total number of licenses Salem can grant has been set by the state.

In a Facebook post, City Councilor Josh Turiel said that while the city’s zoning board of appeals can issue an unlimited number of special permits, only five permit holders will receive licenses to sell marijuana to recreational users from the state.

“When we get to five licenses issued by the state, that’s it. The spigot closes,” Turiel wrote. “So the sky is not falling when you see all these applications being talked about on social media. It really isn’t. We do have a good deal of local control, it’s just that the ZBA permits are based on objective criteria that, if met, will result in a permit being issued.”

Salem approved the ATG special permit last month. Salem City Council approved recreational marijuana sales in February. Under the new rules, which go into effect later this year, the city will issue licenses in the Downtown business district or in areas zone B2, or “business highway,” under city bylaws.

Salem pushed to adopt its own rules before the state adopts rules regulating recreational marijuana sales. Local laws

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