Lawyers for Brittney Griner told a Russian court that physicians in the U.S. had recommended she use cannabis to treat her chronic pain, the Washington Post reports. Griner’s appearance was her fourth in a Russian court for smuggling cannabis-containing vape pens into the country – charges she pleaded guilty to last week as her advisors and attorneys hope to expedite the proceedings.
In her guilty plea, Griner said she accidentally packed the two vape cartridges – which contained 0.702 grams of cannabis – while she was packing for Russia, where she plays in the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) offseason.
During a presentation of her defense, Maria Blagovolina, a partner at the law firm Rybalkin, Gortsunyan, Dyakin & Partners, read a medical certificate indicating that Griner was recommended medical cannabis by U.S. doctors as part of treatment for chronic pain and other conditions, according to the Post. The trial was ultimately adjourned until July 26.
During a court session on Thursday, the director and captain of the Russian team Griner plays for gave character evidence in her defense. Her attorneys expect there will be five total hearings before she is sentenced. Griner faces 10 years in a Russian penal colony if convicted.
Elizabeth Rood, deputy chief of mission at the U.S. Embassy in Moscow, told the Post that during the Thursday and Friday hearings, “[what] became very clear was the tremendous amount of respect and admiration both in the United States and here in Russia where Ms. Griner has been playing basketball for seven years, not only for her professional achievements but for her character and integrity.”
Griner has been detained since last April and is considered “wrongfully detained” by U.S. officials. In May, Russian agency TASS suggested that Russia may be willing to exchange Griner for Viktor Bout – a Russian who is being held in the U.S. following an arms dealing conviction. Bout’s life was the basis for the 2005 film “Lord of War” and he was sentenced to 25 years in prison in 2010.
Russian officials have indicated that no prisoner swap or other diplomatic solution could occur prior to her sentencing.
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