Photo via Keep Labs
As cannabis legalization continues to expand, accessories and ancillary products aimed at new millennium marijuana users have emerged as a hugely profitable product category. From smart bongs to automatic grinders, stoners are going high tech. But is the tech community ready to go green?
According to concurrent reports from TechCrunch and Gizmodo, the annual Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas awarded and then censored a cannabis-focused storage company that uses facial recognition to keep weed safe and secure.
CES originally recognized Keep Labs’ smart stash box in the trade show’s Home Appliance category, but before the company could present the product to tech insiders and investors, show producers told Keep Labs to strike all cannabis imagery and language from its display and demo.
“Once we got to the contracting phase for actually getting the exhibitor spot, we were told that we could not mention cannabis, show cannabis, or any related paraphernalia about cannabis,” Keep Labs co-founder Philip Wilkins told Gizmodo. “And at that point, we had a choice to make about whether we water down the brand and look gimmicky or stay true to our mission trying to have a conversation around responsible cannabis storage.”
Wilkins said that the company was clear and transparent about the product’s intended use throughout the entire process of applying for space at the CES show, and decided to pull out of the scheduled presentation altogether because of the strict anti-cannabis mandates.
A spokesperson for the Consumer Trade Association (CTA), which puts on the prestigious tech conference, subsequently sent a statement to the press about the situation, stating the censorship was all about technicalities.
“There are no cannabis or e-cigarette products on the exhibit floor at CES, as the show does not have a category pertaining to that market,” the statement read. “Given cannabis is not a category at CES, the company was able to exhibit under the terms they’d showcase their product as a storage device.”
As a result, Keep Labs “was able to exhibit under the terms they’d showcase their product as a home appliance or storage device — the category they submitted their innovation award for. They decided not to exhibit.”
The spokesman later added to the statement, noting that "marijuana is illegal at the federal level — as well as in public parks and hotels in the state of Nevada. Because of this, CES does not cover cannabis."
Apparently, in the CTA’s opinion, home appliances and cannabis cannot mix, despite the company clearly stating that its product is intended for weed. Since the CES conference is held annually in Las Vegas, where cannabis is legal for adults 21 years and older, it's particularly odd that Keep Labs was censored. To muddle the moral decision even further, CES has featured a number of alcohol-focused tech products in the past.
This isn’t the first time that an award-winning company has been censored at CES, either. Just last year, the trade show banned a sex toy that had originally been honored in the Robotics and Drone category after they decided it was “immoral, obscene, indecent, profane or not in keeping with CTA’s image.” But after significant backlash from the press and tech insiders, CTA backtracked their moral crusade and returned the award to the hi-tech vibrator.
As for Keep Labs, the company may not have rectified its relationship with the trade show, but the amount of publicity the controversy has already generated might have made the ordeal worth it.
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