Griner lawyers say WNBA star was prescribed medical cannabis | Basketball News

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Lawyers defending American basketball player Brittney Griner, who faces up to 10 years in prison for drug trafficking in Russia, told a Russian court that Griner had obtained permission from a doctor to use medical cannabis to treat a wound.

At the fourth hearing in the Griner case on Friday, defense attorney Maria Blagovolina said an “American attending physician gave Brittney recommendations on the use of medical cannabis.”

“The clearance was issued on behalf of the Arizona Department of Health,” she told the courtroom just outside Moscow, where the All-Star trial is taking place. the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA).

Blagovolina also told Reuters news agency that Griner’s defense team provided written evidence to the court on Friday, including “a doctor’s note for the substance Brittney Griner inadvertently left among her belongings while crossing the border”.

Griner, a two-time Olympic gold medalist, was arrested at the Russian capital’s airport in February after vaping cartridges containing cannabis oil were found in her luggage. She pleaded guilty last week to possessing and smuggling drugs, but said she had no intention of committing a crime.

His detention, which comes at a time of heightened tensions between the US and Russia over the war in Ukraine, has prompted calls from Griner teammates and many others for US President Joe Biden to get his immediate release.

The administration said Griner was “wrongfully detained” by Russian authorities and her case was a priority.

“I will re-emphasize the commitment of the United States government at the highest level to the safe return home of Brittney Griner and all wrongfully detained American citizens,” said Elizabeth Rood, Chargé d’Affaires at the Embassy. of the United States in Moscow, after Friday’s hearing.

An admission of guilt does not automatically end a trial in the Russian justice system, and Griner argued that she had no intention of breaking the law and accidentally included the canisters in her luggage after packing rapidly.

Griner, who plays for the Phoenix Mercury in the WNBA, was scheduled to play for Russian team UMMC Ekaterinburg this offseason in the United States – a common decision for WNBA players who can make a lot more money playing the stranger.

The WNBA star has received support from Russian sports figures such as UMMC Yekaterinburg club boss Maxim Ryabkov, who appeared at a hearing on Thursday to praise Griner’s good character. Ryabkov told the court that Griner had demonstrated “outstanding abilities as a player and a personal contribution to building team spirit”.

“We miss her very much, her energy,” UMMC Yekaterinburg captain Yevgenia Belyakova also told reporters this week, adding that she wanted to “stand by”. [Griner] in these moments”.

Griner is escorted to court in Khimki near Moscow on July 15, 2022 [Evgenia Novozhenina/Reuters]

In the United States, teammates, relatives and advocacy groups have called on the Biden administration to work for Griner’s release.

On July 4, American Independence Day, the WNBA Players Union tweeted that it was “hard to take advantage of a day meant to celebrate independence when one of our own citizens, Brittney Griner, is STILL wrongfully detained in Russia”.

Biden spoke with Griner’s wife earlier this month and said the United States is exploring “all means” to bring her home.

Meanwhile, Russian officials have played down suggestions that Griner could be freed in a prisoner swap with the United States.

Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov noted that until the end of his trial, “there is no formal or procedural reason to talk about new measures”.

Ryabkov also warned that descriptions of Griner as “wrongfully detained”, a designation issued by the US State Department, make it “difficult to engage in detailed discussion of possible exchanges”.

Sitting in the defendant’s wire cage during Friday’s hearing, Griner held up a printed photograph of other WNBA players wearing jerseys with her number, 42, at a game in Chicago earlier this month. . She was wearing a Nirvana T-shirt and smiling as she held on to the metal bars.

The defense team said in court that they suffered from “chronic pain” due to sports injuries. He also provided documents proving his achievements in basketball and his contribution to charity.

“She’s tired,” another of her lawyers, Alexander Boykov, told reporters after the hearing.

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