WNBA star Brittany Griner’s Russian trial looks into the medicinal use of cannabis.


KHAMKI, Russia (AP) — The drug trial of U.S. basketball star Brittany Griner focused on testimony in a Russian court Tuesday that cannabis, while illegal in Russia, is considered a legal medicinal use in other countries. Considered as

Greiner has admitted that she was carrying a vape canister containing cannabis oil when she was arrested at a Moscow airport in February, but has claimed that she had no criminal intent and that the canisters were Due to haste, he had inadvertently ended up in his belongings.

“We’re not arguing that Brittany took it here as a drug. We’re still saying she brought it here unintentionally because she was in a hurry,” defense attorney Alexander Boykov said this session. , in which a Russian psychiatrist testified about the worldwide use of medicinal cannabis.

“The Russian public has to know, and the Russian court has to know first, that it was not used for recreational purposes in the United States. It was prescribed by a doctor,” he said.

Gurner, a two-time Olympic gold medalist who plays for the WNBA’s Phoenix Mercury, could face up to 10 years in prison if convicted. Medical testimony and Greiner’s admission that he was in possession of the cans are intended to give him a lighter sentence.

“We have a lot of mitigating factors. So we hope the court will consider it. And the courts in Russia, in fact, have a very wide discretion regarding sentencing,” said Maria Blagovolina, another of Griner’s lawyers. said

After a nearly 90-minute session on Tuesday, the case was adjourned until Wednesday afternoon.

Trials for the two-time Olympic gold medalist and Phoenix Mercury standout began on July 1 but only five sessions have been held, some lasting just over an hour.

The slow-moving trial and Greiner’s five-month detention have drawn harsh criticism among teammates and supporters in the United States, who have formally described him as “wrongfully detained”. This post has been strongly rejected by the Russian authorities.

US Embassy Charge d’Affaires Elizabeth Rudd attended Tuesday’s court hearing. He told reporters that Griner “confirmed that she is doing well and that she can be expected under the circumstances.”

ABC’s “Good Morning America” ​​aired a brief producer interview with Griner in which he wished his wife, Cheryl, “good luck on the bar exam.”

When asked if he had any complaints, he replied: “No, no complaints. Just wait patiently.” He showed pictures of his wife, friends and colleagues.

Griner was arrested in February amid heightened tensions between the US and Moscow ahead of Russia sending troops into Ukraine later this month. Some supporters claim he has been held as a pawn in a prisoner exchange in Russia. “Obviously he’s being held as a political prisoner,” U.S. soccer notable Megan Rapinoe said last week.

The Russian Foreign Ministry last week criticized US claims that Greiner was being detained improperly and said Russian laws must be respected.

“If an American citizen is caught in connection with the fact that she was smuggling drugs, and she does not deny it, it should be according to our Russian local laws, not San Francisco, New York and Washington. According to the rules adopted in the “, spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said.

“If in the United States, many states legalize drugs, and this happens for a long time and now the whole country becomes addicted to drugs, it does not mean that all other countries will follow the same path. are”. he added.

Russian media have speculated that Greiner could be exchanged for Viktor Bout, a well-known Russian arms dealer imprisoned in the United States, and that American Paul Whelan, imprisoned in Russia on espionage charges, could also be involved in the exchange.

US officials have not commented on the possibility of such a trade. Russian officials have said no exchange can be discussed until the legal proceedings against Greiner are concluded. It is unclear how long the trial will last, but a court has ordered Gurner’s detention until December 20.

Previous trial sessions have included testimony from the director and captain of the Russian team for which Gerner played in the offseason, along with written testimony from a doctor who said he had Cannabis was allowed to be used to treat pain.