The U.S. cannabis industry has grown more than 200 percent over the last five years and now exceeds $7.3 billion, a new report shows.

The report, produced by PMMI, The Association for Packaging and Processing Technologies, projects the industry to reach $24.5 billion by 2020, with more than $13 billion in medical products and $11 billion in recreational products. Marijuana is currently legalized at some level in 30 states and is pending further legalization in 14 states.

The inconsistent legal status between state and federal laws is an obvious challenge facing cannabis manufacturers. Other challenges include:

Separate RFID tags for the plant and packaged product

The resistance of financial institutions to work with cannabis companies

Strict FDA regulations

Packaging for cannabis products is highly regulated with requirements for child resistant and resealable lids, tamper evidence and opacity. Formats also vary for the different forms of cannabis, with cannabis flower in glass jars and tubes, concentrates in heatproof, borosilicate, glass or polystyrene containers and edibles in resealable smell proof bags.

Cannabis manufacturers are actively looking for equipment and technology to aid them in implementing new processes, particularly automation. Many opportunities exist to form strong and lasting relationships with these manufacturers—especially for OEMs offering technical guidance who are willing to take on a bit of risk.

For more information, download the white paper and infographic online.