Pot companies in the technology sector had to sneak into the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) which just wrapped up in Las Vegas yesterday.
The fact that marijuana-related products were banned from the show floor, however, wasn’t enough to prevent pot from becoming a major part of the conversation in Las Vegas last week.
One of the final events at this year’s CES was the Extreme Tech Challenge, a contest for startups in emerging areas of technology. Among the participants is MassRoots, a sort of Facebook for cannabis users.
But the arrival of cannabis companies at the tech industry’s biggest trade show caused a bit of discomfort both for the Consumer Technology Association, which oversees CES, and the organizers of the contest.
The organizers of the Extreme Tech Challenge were courting electronics giant Dell in the hopes that it would send a judge to the contest and give computers to the winner.
Dell declined to participate after MassRoots was named one of the ten semi-finalists.
“Our goal with programs like this is to provide computers to influencers who create positive impact through technology,” Dell said in a statement. “In this instance, we declined to participate because one of the companies in the contest did not meet our criteria.”
The idea that marijuana tech companies and non-profits do not create a positive impact is precisely what MassRoots and companies like it are trying to challenge.
MassRoots was founded in 2013 in Colorado, and now claims 725,000 users. Its apps let people discuss their cannabis-related experiences, learn about pot dispensaries, and keep up on developments in the state-by-state campaign to liberalize drug laws.
Even though they were officially banned, some pot-related companies were able to quietly make it onto the show floor.
Renting a small booth between a little smartwatch company and a startup with an app to encourage kids to brush their teeth was PotBotics.
The company makes a brain scanner intended to help medical marijuana professionals determine which strains of marijuana to recommend.
Despite their technological focus and their efforts to bring the legal cannabis industry into the mainstream, MassRoots, PotBotics and similar companies struggled to have a voice at the CES.
This might change next year, though, since CES is always held in Las Vegas, and Nevadans will vote on a proposal this November to make recreational pot smoking legal.