As the greater Boston area prepares for its first recreational pot shop — slated to open soon in Brookline — some marijuana advocates argue that the licensing process has been too slow. The Brookline store will be the 11th recreational marijuana business in the state since the first one opened in November.

The problem, advocates say, is that officials botched one of the most important parts of the marijuana law.

The law gives cities and towns a lot of control over pot shops through what are called host community agreements, or HCA’s. These HCA’s allow communities to impose up to a 3 percent tax on marijuana businesses as well as an “impact fee,” a documented amount of extra money a community believes it would spend to support a recreational marijuana operation.

Antoine J. Khalife is president of SoCo Green, a company trying to open a recreational pot shop in New Bedford. His application is awaiting approval from the city council, and he said he is concerned about the impact fee he will be charged.

“I understand they're looking out for the best interest of the residents, but what is the fee?” he asked. “What's justifiable? We don't know. And they made it difficult [by demanding] it up front.

Advocacy groups in Massachusetts aren’t just confused by what they see as flouting of the marijuana law, they’re angry.

“You can justify making the establishment pay for maybe an extra patrol and a couple of extra meter maids for parking enforcement,” said Peter Bernard, executive director of the Massachusetts Grower Advocacy Council. “However, what happens is, you get a big money interest that comes to town and says, ‘Hey, we'll give you that three percent that the law allows, but on top of that we'll give you this, that and the other thing.’ The town, of course, is gonna love that. But that, in my opinion, turns into an act of bribery.”

Bernard is working with other pro-marijuana groups to sue the state’s Cannabis Control Commission (CCC), which is in charge of licensing marijuana businesses. The group is demanding the commission crack down on cities and towns that try to squeeze would-be marijuana shops for more than the law allows.

Mass Grower has presented the CCC with a list of the host community agreements signed through last fall that shows 79 percent of them were what he calls “shakedowns.” Communities asked for tens of thousands of dollars in extra fees — without explaining what the money would be used for. Some places have required donations to local charities. One town demanded new snowplows. The city of Fall River went so far as to ask for a percent more in taxes than the law allows. They’ve since reversed that demand.

The group representing cities and towns in the commonwealth isn’t moved by these arguments.

“It’s important to remember,” said Geoff Beckwith, executive director of the Massachusetts Municipal Association, “cities and towns have general authority to negotiate in the public interest on behalf of their residents."

Beckwith said it's a given that his members will try to negotiate the best possible deals; that’s at the heart of capitalism. And he said communities negotiate all the time when they sign contracts for services.

“It's not surprising that the marijuana industry, which is a big business, is raising these concerns,” he said. “The industry itself is using a pretty common playbook to try and push back against that and increase their profits. [But] there's only so far that we should go in terms of public policy to provide protections for private, for-profit companies.”

But not everyone agrees that government should stay out of the way. Officials in Somerville, in fact, say the opposite. George Proakis, director of Somerville’s Planning and Development Office, said his city’s goal is to give a leg up to small, local businesses.

“We’re going to offer the same host community agreement to everybody. One of the things we are not going to do that some of our neighbors did is use the host community agreement as a way to sell our licenses,” Proakis said.

The CCC acknowledges that some communities are using HCAs to sell licenses, and Chairman Steve Hoffman said what’s he’s trying to figure out is how to stop it.

“A large majority of the cities and towns are playing this the right way,” he said. “But we take this very seriously and we are going to figure out a way to get resolution, whether it's through our own process and/or asking for help from the legislature.”

That help appears to be coming. There are at least three bills before the legislature to amend host community agreements. The groups planning to sue the CCC say that in theory the legislation is a good thing, but they’re worried about lobbying efforts from groups like the Massachusetts Municipal Association.