This year’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES) was, as usual, an incredible display of innovative products that have the ability to change the world (in their own special ways). In the past, the CES Innovation Award went to a sex tech toy that was later banned and then reinstated which has led to the integration of other sex tech brands that, for years had been exhibiting their products under the health and wellness category.
In 2020’s CES show, a weed tech company named Keep Labs was banned for exhibiting their cannabis storage device as something other than a home appliance or storage device. What was the cause for the ban? Well, it’s complicated. Let’s get to the bottom of the ban and see if this is the beginning of cannabis tech being allowed to exhibit their innovative products at CES in the future.
What Happened With Keep Labs At CES 2020?
CES is filled with some of the more unusual, yet spectacular tech products that all have the chance to change the world in one way or another. This year’s CES 2020 was no different. From autonomous cars to augmented reality (AR) glasses and everything in between, spectators were greeted with an amazing display of technology at their disposal.
Amongst all of the tech commotion, the Consumer Technology Association (CTA), the organization behind both CES and the CES Innovation Award, found that cannabis tech company, Keep Labs (and any other cannabis company), was ill-fitted to deserve a CES Innovation Award. The CTA went on to say in a statement that “marijuana is illegal at the federal level, as well as in public parks and hotels in the state of Nevada.” They went on to say that Keep Labs could have exhibited their product if it labelled itself as a home appliance or storage device, which was as it did when it submitted itself for an Innovation Award nomination. When Keep Labs took a stand and refused to negate their cannabis presence to exhibit, they were swiftly banned from competition.
Although this may seem slightly trivial on the surface, it’s not that simple. The CTA’s demand also meant that Keep Labs couldn’t utter the words cannabis, marijuana, Mary Jane, pot, or weed on the floor or at any CES-sponsored events. This was what led to the company bowing out of presenting in an official capacity. The courageous stance that Keep Labs showed in their challenge to CTA was a tough, yet simple choice for the company to make. The company could have exhibited in the way that CTA wanted them to and possibly win a CES Innovation Award, but that would have come at a disservice to the products that they work so hard to market to the cannabis community.
What Does The Ban Mean For The Future Of Cannabis Tech At CES?
When asked by TechCrunch reporters about their decision to bow out of CES, Keep Labs said that avoiding saying cannabis goes against the company’s best interest since the technology that they developed is legal and cannabis itself is legal in 33 states and Canada. The interesting conundrum to point out is that cannabis is also fully legal in Las Vegas (where CES takes place) and there are multiple dispensaries within a mile of the convention center.
Although marijuana remains illegal on a federal level (for the time being), conversations are rapidly progressing towards a future where CTA’s stance will need to be altered. Hopefully, at that point, CTA and CES will be able to pivot their stance on marijuana and allow cannabis tech companies like Keep Labs to exhibit much like they did a few years back when they reversed their decision to allow sex tech companies to exhibit and compete for CES Innovation Awards. Only time will tell what will be the catalyst behind any major change to CTA’s stance in the future.