The growing acceptance and legalization of marijuana is helping the U.S. cannabis industry expand well beyond niche status. It's forecast to pump from $24 billion to $44 billion annually into the country's economy by 2020, according to an industry publication.

At the upper end of that forecast, published in the Marijuana Business Factbook 2016, it means sales of medicinal and recreational marijuana and related products and services would nearly equal the annual revenues of such Fortune 500 firms asFedEx (FDX) and Lockheed Martin (LMT), should current trends continue.

Put another way, that $44 billion is just shy of Panama's $46.2 billion GDP and ahead of Serbia's $43.9 billion.

Even if the industry publication's forecast is a bit puffed up, cannabis is clearly heading for the big time.

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David Schepp ~ CBSNews.com ~

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