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Home World News Washington Post World News Griner lawyer: WNBA star had doctor’s note for cannabis

Griner lawyer: WNBA star had doctor’s note for cannabis

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KHIMKI, Russia – A lawyer for WNBA star Brittney Griner, who is in prison in Russia for drug possession, presented a doctor’s letter to the court on Friday recommending her use cannabis to treat pain.

Griner, a two-time Olympic gold medalist and luminary for the Phoenix Mercury, was arrested at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport in February after customs officials said they found vape canisters containing cannabis oil in her luggage.

She faces up to 10 years in prison if convicted of drug trafficking.

Griner admitted in court last week that she was in possession of the buses, but said she had no criminal intent and claimed the buses’ presence was due to hasty packing. In the Russian legal system, admission of guilt does not automatically mean the end of a trial.

Since the guilty plea, her court hearings have focused on personal and written testimony of her good character and athletic prowess.

“The attending physician gave Brittney recommendations for the use of medicinal cannabis. The authorization was issued on behalf of the Arizona Department of Health,” attorney Maria Blagovolina said.

The defense also submitted tests Friday, which she underwent as part of an anti-doping check, which detected no banned substances in her system.

The next hearing of Griner’s case was scheduled for July 26.

“In the hearings yesterday and today, it became very clear the enormous amount of respect and admiration both in the United States and here in Russia, where Miss Griner has been playing basketball for seven years, not only for her professional achievements, but also for her character and integrity. US embassy chargé d’affaires Elizabeth Rood said outside the courthouse in the Moscow suburb of Khimki, where the airport is located.

The director and team captain of UMMC Ektaerinburg, for which Griner plays off-season, testified on her behalf on Thursday.

US President Joe Biden and Secretary of State Antony Blinken have said they are doing everything they can to win her release, as well as those of other Americans whom the US says are “unjustly detained” by Russia, including former Marine Paul Whelan who 16 years in prison. on an espionage conviction.

Washington may have little influence over Moscow due to strong animosity over its military operation in Ukraine.

Russian media has speculated that Griner could be traded for Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout, nicknamed “the Merchant of Death”, who is serving a 25-year sentence in the US after he was convicted of conspiracy to murder American citizens and provide aid. to a terrorist organization.

Russia has been campaigning for Bout’s release for years. But the great discrepancy in the seriousness of their affairs could make such a trade unpalatable to Washington. Others have suggested that Griner could be traded along with Whelan, who is serving 16 years in Russia under an espionage conviction the US has described as a scheme.

The State Department designation of Griner as unjustly detained places her case under the supervision of the Presidential Special Envoy for Hostage Affairs, effectively the government’s chief negotiator. The classification has irritated Russia.

Asked about the possibility of Griner being traded for a Russian imprisoned in the US, Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov, the senior Russian diplomat, noted that until her trial is over, “there are no formal or procedural reasons to discuss the matter. discuss further steps. ”

Ryabkov warned that U.S. criticism, including Griner’s description of being wrongly detained and dismissive comments about the Russian justice system, “makes it difficult to engage in a detailed discussion of potential exchanges.”

Griner’s detention will be allowed until December 20, suggesting the trial could take months. Griner’s lawyers, however, said they expected it to be completed by early August.



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