Brittney Griner Received Permission to Use Medical Marijuana in U.S., Lawyer Says

Adam WellsJuly 15, 2022

CHICAGO, IL - OCTOBER 16:  Brittney Griner #42 of the Phoenix Mercury poses for a photo at practice and media availability during the 2021 WNBA Finals on October 16, 2021, at Wintrust Arena in Chicago, Illinois. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2021 NBAE (Photo by Barry Gossage/NBAE via Getty Images)
Barry Gossage/NBAE via Getty Images

As her drug-possession trial in Russia resumes on Friday, Brittney Griner's lawyer said the WNBA star had permission from a United States doctor to use marijuana for medical purposes.

Per Jim Heintz of the Associated Press, Maria Blagovolina provided the Russian court with documents from the U.S. doctor that recommends she use cannabis for pain treatment.

"The attending physician gave Brittney recommendations for the use of medical cannabis," Blagovolina said. "The permission was issued on behalf of the Arizona Department of Health."

Griner's defense also submitted tests on Friday that she previously underwent as part of an anti-doping check that showed no prohibited substances in her system.

Griner pleaded guilty to charges of drug possession and smuggling on July 7.

ESPN's T.J. Quinn reported that Griner's guilty plea was likely a strategic move "to help facilitate a prisoner swap that could bring Griner home, and it also was a recognition that there was no way she was going to be acquitted."

According to Quinn, while there is no timetable for the length of the trial, the "real resolution" to the case is expected to be a deal that brings "one or more Russians currently in U.S. custody back to Russia in exchange for the release of Griner and possibly another American, Paul Whelan, who has been detained in Russia since December 2018."

Tatyana Chistikova, Alicia Victoria Lozano and Rhoda Kwan of NBC News noted the trial adjourned for 11 days after Friday's proceedings when Griner's legal team asked the Moscow court for more time to prepare.

UMMC Ekaterinburg player Evgeniya Belyakova and general manager Maxim Ryabkovwo, two members of Griner's team in Russia, appeared in court on Thursday to make statements as character witnesses on her behalf.

Griner was originally detained in Russia on Feb. 17 when airport security found vaporizer cartridges containing hashish oil, an illegal substance in the country, in her luggage. She has now been detained for 148 days.

The U.S. State Department said in a statement on May 3 that it had determined Griner was being wrongfully detained.

President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris spoke with Griner's wife, Cherelle Griner, by telephone on July 6 in an effort to reassure her they are working to get Brittney back to the United States.

Griner was in Russia playing for UMMC Ekaterinburg prior to being detained. She has played for the club during the WNBA offseason since 2014.