San Diego County’s only licensed commercial marijuana grower plans to at least double production, largely to help meet demand when stores begin selling recreational cannabis in early January.

OutCo, which operates in an unincorporated area near El Cajon, says that it is on pace to produce about 1,000 pounds of marijuana this year, and will push the figure to 2,000 to 2,500 pounds, or more, in 2018. It’s possible that the total will hit 5,000 pounds.

The company also is preparing to open two cultivation buildings in Long Beach that will collectively produce about 1,000 pounds of marijuana a month, starting next year.

Hope Barrett breaks down a marijuana plant in the processing department at OutCo, a marijuana growing facility in unincorporated El Cajon. (John Gibbins/San Diego Union-Tribune)

To date, all of the company’s product has been going to licensed medical marijuana facilities in San Diego, Orange and Los Angeles counties. OutCo’s market will expand on, or about, January 1st, when licensed stores add recreational cannabis.

About a dozen stores in San Diego are expected to receive permission to sell cannabis to anyone who is at least 21 years old. Such commerce was made possible by Proposition 64, which was approved by voters in November 2016.

“We’re going to increase production (in El Cajon) by adding growing racks that will hang above the ones that we already have,” said Virginia Falces, the company’s communication’s director.

OutCo cultivates about 2,000 marijuana plants at a time at an indoor facility on unincorporated land near Gillespie Field. The company has 36 employees, a figure that’s expected to grow as cannabis sales rise.

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