Brittney Griner, the Phoenix Mercury star and a two-time Olympic gold medalist who competed in Russia during the WNBA offseason, was detained by Russian officials in February at a Moscow airport. She was charged with smuggling of narcotics, a crime that carries a maximum 10-year jail sentence.
However, on July 7, she pleaded guilty to all charges, telling the judge, “But there was no intent. I didn’t want to break the law.” On July 15, she appeared in Russian court for her fourth hearing, with her defense team claiming she now had a prescription to use medical marijuana to treat a chronic injury.
A letter from a US medical facility authorizing Griner to use medical cannabis in Arizona to treat her chronic pain from sporting injuries was submitted to the Russian court by Griner’s defense team. The letter strengthens Griner’s case, which proves that she actually had a prescription for the marijuana she brought into a Moscow airport earlier this year by accident. It’s her legal team’s recent attempt to secure a shorter sentence or even clemency in the future.
On Friday, Blagovolina presented the letter from a US healthcare facility to the court, “On May 18, 2020, Brittney Griner underwent a clinical examination… The patient complained of acute chronic pain due to multiple ankle injuries, as well as injuries and pain sustained during her sports career. The patient complained of pain in the middle back, lower back, knees, and ankle pain.”
“The attending physician gave Brittney recommendations for the use of medical cannabis,” one of her lawyers, Maria Blagovolina, told the Associated Press. “The permission was issued on behalf of the Arizona Department of Health.” In Arizona, where Griner is from, weed is legal for both leisure and therapeutic purposes.