A total of 181 companies have applied to the state, which checks financial and criminal backgrounds, for permission to open medical marijuana facilities. Approved companies can then go to Norwell with a specific site and plan. The town makes a recommendation to the state, which conducts a detailed review. Rules do not prohibit more than one facility in a community, but “geographic need” is a factor in the review. A company that passes will apply for a special permit from the Norwell Zoning Board of Appeals and enter the public hearing process.