Cannabis Causes Controversy at CES Trade Show

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LAS VEGAS – Iconic tech trade show, the Consumer Electronics Show or CES, which is owned and produced by the Consumer Technology Association, seems to be challenged by keeping up with technology developed for controversial and popular product trends, like cannabis.

Media reports said Canadian cannabis container start-up Keep Labs has dropped out of the show, rather than comply with constraints on its display required by CES show organizers.


CES officials prohibited the company from using the word “cannabis” in discussions or in any of its promotional materials, including images of cannabis. Keep Labs was also requested not to discuss the purpose of its flagship product, the Keep.

The Keep device is a super-secret luxury stash box and app designed to mimic a digital tabletop clock. It uses biometric technology to keep contents secure, among other bells and whistles, for discreet cannabis storage.

To add to the kerfuffle, Keep Labs is recipient of a CES 2020 Innovation Award.

Associated Press quoted Gary Shapiro, president and chief executive officer for the Consumer Technology Association, who said, “We don’t allow pornographic. We don’t allow content where children are killed. We don’t allow anything with vaping. Marijuana has been a tougher [sic] one for us.”

High tech sex toys caused a similar controversy last year, when CES revoked the Innovation Award received by Lora Di Carlo for her self-named company’s line of sex toys. Show officials cited rules against “obscene or profane” products, which caused significant backlash from female attendees of the 2019 show. Traditionally a male-dominated industry, female attendees pointed out that sex-related devices targeting men had historically been allowed at previous shows.

This year, female-forward sex toy companies are receiving a lot of media attention on the CES floor, including Lora Di Carlo, who has returned in triumph. Pioneering tech sex toy company OhMiBod—run by former Apple marketing executive Suki Dunham—also is exhibiting at CES among ten other sex toy tech companies. 

Cannabis technology companies and developers may just have to wait their turn. A recent Pew Research poll said two-thirds of Americans favor recreational cannabis legalization over all, and even more for medicinal use. A 2018 study by UK-based sex toy retailer Lovehoney figured that three out of four Americans own a dildo.