Brittney Griner's Lawyers Argue She Used Cannabis Legally to Manage Injuries in USA

Mike Chiari@@mikechiariFeatured Columnist IVJuly 26, 2022

US WNBA basketball superstar Brittney Griner arrives to a hearing at the Khimki Court, outside Moscow on July 7, 2022. - Griner, a two-time Olympic gold medallist and WNBA champion, was detained at Moscow airport in February on charges of carrying in her luggage vape cartridges with cannabis oil, which could carry a 10-year prison sentence. (Photo by Kirill KUDRYAVTSEV / AFP) (Photo by KIRILL KUDRYAVTSEV/AFP via Getty Images)

On Tuesday, WNBA star Brittney Griner's lawyers testified in a Russian court about the use of cannabis for medicinal purposes in other parts of the world.

Griner, who was arrested at a Moscow airport in February for carrying vape canisters containing cannabis oil, has been in custody for 158 days and is facing up to 10 years in prison if convicted.

According to the Associated Press (h/t ESPN), one of Griner's lawyers, Alexander Boykov, said after Tuesday's hearing that while Griner accidentally brought the vape cartridges with her to Russia, it was important to explain the legality of marijuana in the United States and how and why it is used:

"We are not arguing that Brittney took it here as a medicine. We are still saying that she involuntarily brought it here because she was in a rush. The Russian public has to know, and the Russian court in the first place has to know, that it was not used for recreational purposes in the United States. It was prescribed by a doctor."

Another of Griner's lawyers, Maria Blagovolina, also commented: "We have a lot of mitigating factors. So we do hope that the court will take it into consideration. And the courts in Russia, in fact, have very broad discretion with regard to the sentence."

During Tuesday's proceedings, Griner managed to pass on a message to her wife, Cherelle Griner, telling an ABC News producer that she wanted to wish her luck on the bar exam:

Good Morning America @GMA

Brittney Griner tells ABC News she wants to wish her wife, Cherelle Griner, "good luck on the bar exam," as the WNBA star's drug trial in Russia resumes. <a href="https://twitter.com/MaggieRulli?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@maggierulli</a> reports. <a href="https://t.co/qbNJaDaFVX">https://t.co/qbNJaDaFVX</a> <a href="https://t.co/qBBqpKfdqT">pic.twitter.com/qBBqpKfdqT</a>

In May, the United States government determined Griner was being "wrongfully detained" in Russia, per ESPN's T.J. Quinn, but any attempts to bring her back home have been unsuccessful thus far.

Earlier this month, White House officials confirmed that Griner managed to get a letter from Russia to United States President Joe Biden.

In one portion of the letter, Griner mentioned herself and other American prisoners in Russia:

"Please do all you can to bring us home. I voted for the first time in 2020 and I voted for you. I believe in you. I still have so much good to do with my freedom that you can help restore. I miss my wife! I miss my family! I miss my teammates! It kills me to know they are suffering so much right now. I am grateful for whatever you can do at this moment to get me home."

Griner, 31, has played professionally in the WNBA for the Phoenix Mercury since 2013 and has played in Russia during WNBA offseasons since 2014.

In the WNBA, Griner is an eight-time All-Star, two-time scoring champion, two-time Defensive Player of the Year and one-time WNBA champion.

She was selected as an honorary All-Star at the 2022 WNBA All-Star Game earlier this month, and every WNBA team has displayed her initials and jersey number on their courts this season.