TV Review: 'East New York' on CBS; Season 1, Episode 12, 'Up in Smoke'

At the Royal Kush Dispensary after an armed robbery. Cast menbers from left: Tobias Truvillion, Kevin Rankin, Elizabeth Rodriguez and Amanda Warren. (Image via CBS)

Network television has a pretty bad track record when it comes to marijuana storylines. In fact, the non-cable networks have promulgated myths and stereotypes for years, contributing to the continuation of cannabis prohibition. 

Now that legalization is sweeping the nation, script writers are looking for new and improved angles. Case in point: Season 1, Episode 12 ("Up in Smoke") of CBS's police show, East New York.

Spoilers Alert!

It begins with the Royal Kush Dispensary in Brooklyn getting robbed at gunpoint to the tune of $85,000. There have been a string of such robberies at newly licensed cannabis stores. 

Detective Crystal Morales (Elizabeth Rodriquez) thinks it's an inside job and goes to the Office of Cannabis Management to find out. When she connects a shooting victim at another cannabis rip-off to an OCM staffer (both were soldiers together), the staffer flips and reveals, "Since this is all pretty new, a lot of the dispensaries that just opened have non-operational security systems."

RELATED: Fact-Checking the Cannabis Subplot in Recent "New Amsterdam" Episode 

Together, they set up a bust at another store and take down the operation. 

The episode pays lip service to the recent changes in New York's laws, acknowledging the effort to make amends for those most impacted by the War on Drugs. Royal Kush owner Jamal Hayes (Tobias Truvillion) did 4.5 years for selling 6.5 ounces of pot. "That's why he was given priority and granted a license," Morales says.

The irony is that Deputy Inspector Regina Haywood (Amanda Warren) was Hayes' arresting office. "There was a mandatory minimum in effect back then," she tells him.

But as the episode resolves, Haywood recovers the stolen loot and returns it to Hayes, who hugs her in the police station. This just would never happen.

So, to recap, the police stopped the cannabis crime spree, rooted out a criminal at the OCM and helped a one-time reviled convict get his money back. 

That's about as good as it's going to get on network television.


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Steve Bloom

Steve Bloom

Publisher of, former editor of High Times and Freedom Leaf and co-author of Pot Culture and Reefer Movie Madness.