A licensed marijuana producer on the outskirts of Duncan is poised to become one of the Cowichan Valley’s largest employers once the expansion of its new facility is complete.

United Greeneries currently grows more than 4,000 marijuana plants in its 16,000 square-foot space.

“We currently have 15 people on staff here and are currently growing as we expand,” said Michael Rykes, United Greeneries production manager. “We hope to have probably about 50 new people on the new site.”

The United Greeneries productions site will break ground on a greenhouse operation in the near future.

Once construction is complete, up to 100 jobs will hit the market starting at $20 an hour.

“It’s very exciting to be able to impact our local economy and impact the community we live in at the very basic level which is offering them opportunities to work, offering them a good living earnings,” said United Greeneries CEO Daniela Vaschi.

The CEO adds that it’s a new industry and it can be difficult to find qualified personnel to do the work.

United Greeneries plans to work with local First Nations to develop long-term training programs and it’s also looking to hire stay-at-home moms.

“The work fluctuates quite a bit so there’s always the opportunity to bring in flexible time workers,” said Vaschi. “I think it would be highly beneficial and it will empower the women of our community,” 

Current employees at the grow operation say they applaud the expansion that will offer more people a living wage. 

“There’s full-time jobs, but they are seasonal in my field so to have the opportunity to work all year round…in the valley for a living wage, I can only be grateful,” said assistant grower Isa Infante.

 With files from CTV Vancouver Island's Scott Cunningham