Brittney Griner had a prescription for the weed she brought to Russia

Brittney Griner has proof she had a prescription for the weed she mistakenly brought to a Moscow airport earlier this year. It’s the latest push by his legal team to get a lighter sentence, or even leniency, down the line.

Cannabis is legal for recreational and medical use in Arizona, where Griner is from. And on Friday in court, his attorney presented a doctor’s letter authorizing the WNBA All-Star Center for the Phoenix Mercury to use him to treat his pain, according to the Associated Press.

“The attending physician gave Brittney recommendations on the use of medical cannabis,” Griner’s attorney Maria Blagovolina said during Griner’s second court appearance this week. “The clearance was issued on behalf of the Arizona Department of Health. »

Since Griner pleaded guilty last week, his legal team moved on to presenting his alleged crimes as an honest mistake, not as criminal intent. Last week, Griner said in court that less than a gram of cannabis oil found in her bag was there because she rushed as she packed for her trip to Russia. The doctor’s note is the latest effort to prove she had no malicious intent in court.

While the doctor’s letter is not likely to directly affect the court’s final decision on his sentence, politically it does give Russia leeway not to punish Griner to the fullest extent of its laws, especially if they want an easy way to appear more generous on the other end of a story that has since received international attention, according to Professor Joshua Tucker, director of NYU’s Jordan Center for Advanced Study of Russia.

“If someone had a prescription from Indonesia to use heroin for medical purposes and they tried to enter the United States with heroin, I don’t think anyone here would care. would care,” he said. “Maybe that’s a positive signal that there might be more post-conviction options available, because that sort of paves the way for a step back on the Russian side. »

Griner, who is also a two-time Olympic gold medalist, was arrested at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport on February 17 after Russian customs found less than a gram of cannabis oil in her luggage. Security footage released weeks later showed her being pushed aside by a customs officer, although concerns grew that Griner was being held as a political pawn in his dispute with Ukraine.

Russian prosecutors say Griner broke the law when she smuggled drugs into the country. She is charged with drug possession and trafficking and faces up to 10 years in prison.

Initially, the US State Department was quite silent on efforts to bring Griner home, and the audience didn’t seem to notice. But that has changed significantly. This week during WNBA All-Star Weekend, players wore Griner’s jersey number, 42jointly and severally sports personalities, celebrities and Griner’s Wife went from silent to outspoken about their concerns about his arrest.

Even Griner herself wrote to President Joe Biden asking that the United States not forget it. And with more scrutiny of his situation than before, Russia could be pressured to end his incarceration as soon as possible.

“By being able to say, ‘We understand she had this for medical reasons, she understands she broke the laws of Russia, we’re going to be generous and let her go’, that’s an easy way out. to completely get away from it. “said Tucker.

Russian state media hinted that there had been early conversations between the United States and Russia about a possible prisoner exchange. The outlet claims Griner could be traded for Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout, who is currently serving a 25-year prison sentence for conspiring to sell weapons to people who said they planned to kill Americans. in 2011. The United States has not confirmed that these conversations took place, according to the New York Times.

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