Brittney Griner Reportedly Had Doctor’s Note for Cannabis Use
A lawyer representing WNBA star Brittney Griner revealed a vital detail about her case this week. Is this the smoking gun to save Brittney?
In February, a simple vial of hash oil had landed Brittney Griner in a Russian prison; she has been staying there ever since. Now, she’s still fighting for her life overseas after months of failed efforts to get her back on American soil. With the current political strife between Joe Biden and Russian president Vladimir Putin, many believe Griner has gotten herself into an impossible jam. However, a recent revelation made by her lawyer may change her fate.
This past Friday (Jul 15), a drug possession trial was held for the Phoenix Mercury player in Russia. During the trial, a U.S. doctor presented a prescription letter suggesting Brittney Griner medical cannabis for fatigue.
Following Griner’s initial arrest in Sheremetyevo Airport, the former Olympian has been through a legal and emotional rollercoaster. The container of cannabis oil found in Griner’s luggage by Airport officials carries a hefty price. She faces up to 10 years in prison if found guilty of transporting drugs.
In addition to the prescription, another revelation made during last week’s trial is Brittney Griner’s intent with the hash oil. According to the 31-year-old, she had absolutely no criminal motives. Instead, she only had the containers due to packing sloppily for her upcoming season with the UMMC Ekaterinburg basketball team. Regardless of this defense, Griner is still pleading guilty. She’ll still have to rely mainly on written testimony testifying her excellent character to avoid conviction.
The issue, of course, is that medical marijuana isn’t legal in Russia. The Eastern European nation has a notably strict policy concerning the popular drug. It’s worth noting that the Russian government and the public seem to oppose the recreational substance completely. In a 2018 phone survey of 1,600 Russians, 89% don’t approve of the decriminalization of cannabis, while only 8% support it. This philosophy is shared by younger and older generations in the former Soviet state. The same survey discovered only 17% of Russian 18-24-year-olds support cannabis legalization.
Brittney Griner during a hearing in Russian court today, holding a photo of fellow WNBA players wearing her number and name on jerseys during the second half of the All-Star Game.
(h/t @alexaphilippou) pic.twitter.com/jzjJD1iitF
— ESPN (@espn) July 15, 2022
In a viral photo, Griner sits in a cage while holding a printed picture of her teammates wearing her name in solidarity. Last week’s All-Star Game image symbolizes the WNBA’s avid support for the Phoenix center.
Meanwhile, Joe Biden, Secretary of State Antony Blinken, and lawyer Maria Blagovolina are trying desperately to get Britney back home. Blagovolina defended Griner in court this Friday, citing the excuse from her doctor and a recent negative doping test. “The attending physician gave Brittney recommendations for the use of medical cannabis,” she argued. “The permission was issued on behalf of the Arizona Department of Health.”
Britney will have to fight for her freedom again in her next hearing on Jul 26.
Making the Deal for Griner
A clear interest in prisoner swaps recently also appeared on the Russian end of the negotiations. Russian firearm salesman Viktor Bout is being thrown out as a possible candidate for an exchange. The arms trader, also known as “the merchant of death,” is currently in an American prison serving 25 years on conspiracy charges and providing materials to terrorists. Indeed a much less victimless set of convictions than Brittney Griner’s prescription vape pen.
Truly, Griner is in a rough situation. Her arrest comes at an awful time as tensions between the U.S. and the Russian government continue to grow daily. Russia’s involvement in the Ukraine conflict has severely damaged the relationship between both governmental bodies. The word is that this predominantly affects the stall in negotiating Griner’s case. In addition, Russian officials aren’t happy with Griner’s classification as wrongfully detained since it causes more supervision and publicity on her case than usual. The social media storm and the criticism Russia has faced surrounding the situation have also hindered negotiations.
U.S. Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov also confirmed this. He addressed the online anti-Russia comments, saying they make it “difficult to engage in the detailed discussion of any possible exchanges.” When prodded about the option of trading Griner for Bout, he gave a more vague answer. “there are no formal or procedural reasons to talk about any further steps.” He said.
Britney Griner’s stint in a Russian jail expanded to Dec 20. With all these factors against her, she needs more support stateside than ever. Although her lawyers have said they foresee the trial closing in early August, this may be just the beginning for Britney.
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Dreema Carrington|IG: @dr3amgirl79 | Twitter: @notdreema