Fall River Mayor Jasiel Correia’s indictment on charges of bribery and extortion of local marijuana businesses has cast a spotlight on how such shops are approved.

Recreational marijuana shops in Massachusetts get state licenses, but need municipal approval as well, in the form of a letter of non-opposition and a host community agreement, according to federal prosecutors. U.S. Attorney Andrew Lelling says he’s worried those approvals rest on too few people.

“The local head of government, usually the mayor has sole discretion in issuing these letters,” Lelling said. “We’re a little concerned about that. We may or may not look into that issue more broadly.”

According to the indictment, Correia was solely responsible for an essential stamp of approval for new marijuana shops in the city. He’s accused of bribing or extorting four such businesses in exchange for a signed letter of non-opposition.

“Many businesses are looking to set up what they think will be a lucrative business,” Lelling said of the growing recreational industry in the state. “And so you have a situation where local authorities, local mayors could be sorely tempted to take some sort of bribe or take some sort of payment for a letter.”

In Fall River, Northeast Alternatives is the first and so far only recreational marijuana shop. When it started selling in January, co-owner Rich Rosier characterized the obstacles for opening a shop this way:

“I would say the big barriers to entry in the industry are capital, and then arrangements, I would say negotiating with the cities,” Rosier said.

At the time, Rosier was talking about a range of issues from zoning to nimbyism.

The Mayor’s arrest may suggest there was an entirely different hurdle for some local marijuana businesses in the city. According to the indictment variety of middlemen, and sometimes Correia himself, leaned on fledgling businesses, demanding hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Correia has pleaded not guilty to all charges, and maintains his innocence.

On Friday, Northeast Alternatives shop was busy, with a line out the door. A request to speak with someone was met with a “no comment.”

The arrest of the mayor is focusing attention on the broader issues around regulating recreational marijuana industry. Some say the system gives local authorities too much power, which can easily be abused.