Cannabis Tech Companies On Restrictions At CES: ‘Lots Of Room For Growth Ahead’

The tech industry and the cannabis industry are having a hard time getting along.

Apple Inc.’s recent ban on all vaping apps from the App Store is just another stone in the mountain of restrictions that tech giants are presenting to cannabis companies.

The Consumer Electronics Show conference held in Las Vegas from Jan. 7-10 is the latest example. The CES is one of the most important annual gatherings for consumer technology companies and is organized and produced by the Consumer Technology Association.

Keep Labs, a cannabis tech company, was banned by the CTA from using the word “cannabis” while showcasing their products at the conference.

Keep, the company’s flagship product, is a smart storage box designed to keep cannabis at home fresh, discreetly saved and away from the hands of children. While the company was allowed to show the product, the CTA asked the company not to refer to cannabis in any way and present it as a non-specific storing device.

On account of this request, Keep said it decided not to participate on from the CES floor.

Keep Labs co-founder Ben Gliksman told Benzinga that, while his company wasn’t attempting to bring actual marijuana or marijuana products to the show, they did rely on using the word “cannabis” for their presence.

Ironically enough, the CTA handed Keep an honoree mention at its 2020 CES innovation awards for home appliances.

PAX, a cannabis tech company that manufactures smart vaporizers, was not allowed to participate at CES.

“We were told by CES they don’t allow cannabis companies on the show floor,” a PAX spokesperson said.

Is Cannabis The Weed Of The Tech Industry?

Keep Labs’ Gliksman told Benzinga he hopes the incident will help to bring awareness to the challenges that the cannabis industry faces in the tech space, and enable a broader conversation, especially as the regulatory environment changes.

“This seems to be another example of the challenges every cannabis tech company faces. We got shut down on Kickstarter, IndieGoGo, Stripe. We haven’t been able to get a single ad approved from Facebook and our Twitter handle got blocked,” Gliksman said, in reference to the many restrictions that tech giants present to cannabis companies in terms of paid advertising and their overall online presence.

Gary Shapiro, president and CEO of the CTA, told the Associated Press that his organization gave this issue a lot of thought before acting.

“We draw lines, we have to. We don’t allow pornographic. We don’t allow content where children are killed. We don’t allow anything with vaping,” he said, adding that “marijuana has been a tougher one.”

“I think we’re waiting to see if it’s a little more legal, at least around the country,” he concluded.

What Needs To Change For Cannabis To Be Accepted By Tech?

Larry Levi, CEO and co-founder of Lucid Green, a tech company that brings smart digital solutions to the cannabis supply chain, told Benzinga he believes these issues will resolve themselves once the mainstream tech industry gets more involved in cannabis.

“It’s going to be really interesting to see what happens when these established players focus heavily on the cannabis industry, and attempt to displace the niche cannatech players that filled the gap, because these established players historically chose not to sell to cannabis businesses.”

For Tim Conder, COO of TILT Holdings federal legislative reform is the key.

“Along with these changes will come greater acceptance both in the mainstream news media and at events like these, not to mention broader business and research opportunities. We’re clearly still in the early days of this industry, and there is lots of room for growth ahead,” he said.

Keep Lab’s Gliksman remains positive about the future of his business relative to the tech sector.

“Hopefully we’ll be able to work with the CTA in 2021 to bring a cannabis track to the CES show,” he said.

This article was originally featured on Bezinga, 20 January 2020