The goal of this post was to highlight interesting cannabis consumer tech products and companies that will be showcasing at the 2019 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas. Interestingly enough, that was much easier said than done.
You would expect that with the massive hype around the cannabis industry, this would be the year that consumer-oriented companies put their best products forward. After all, investors have poured hundreds of millions of dollars into weed-related startups, resulting in a flood of weed gadgets aimed at both medical and recreational users.
Between e-vapes, oil pens, dab rigs, automatic grinders, and smart cannabis inspired products; there’s no shortage of weed tech on the market right now. But yet, finding out what will be presented ahead of time has proven to be a challenge.
Despite the fact that cannabis is an incredibly hot industry right now it’s practically nonexistent at the world’s largest consumer tech trade show. Something’s got to be off. Surprisingly, it has nothing to do with rules and regulations.
CES VS. THE CANNABIS INDUSTRY
The Consumer Technology Association (the organization that runs CES) has no rules on the books that prevent or discourage companies from exhibiting marijuana-related products at the show. But for the most part, there’s a clear “no cannabis allow” rule that shadows the consumer tech event.
You can’t blame the state or local marijuana laws, either. Recreational and medical use of marijuana is completely legal in Nevada, and while the state does have a few restrictions on where and how cannabis consumption devices can be sold, there are no regulations that prevent weed-tech startups from peddling their wares at trade shows.
PAX Labs is one of the leading vaporizer companies that plan to make a bit of history at the buttoned-down Consumer Electronics Show. It believes it will be the first to demonstrate cannabis products at the country’s premier technology conference.
There is a catch, however. A ban on cannabis at the show has forced the San Francisco-based company to demo its vaporizer with CBD/THC pods at Planet 13, a local dispensary. (At a CES event Monday evening, placebo pods containing flavors such as blueberry cheesecake will have to suffice.)
“We are a technology company in the pot field,” PAX Labs Chief Executive Bharat Vasan told Barron’s in a phone interview. “We want to bring more and more acceptance to the field.”
A CES spokeswoman said there are no cannabis or e-cigarette products on the exhibit floor because the show does not have a category for the market.
If CES is reticent about such technology, several venture capitalists have shown no hesitation to plow money into the startup, which has raised more than $50 million from the likes of Tao Capital Partners and Tiger Global Management. The company is in the midst of another “substantial” round, Vasan said, which could lead to a potential IPO.