New details have emerged in the Brittney Griner Russian drug case. While attending court on Thursday (July 14), the WNBA star’s lawyers presented the courts with documentation from her doctor approving her use of cannabis to treat pain. Griner pleaded guilty to bringing illegal hashish oil through Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport in her last court appearance. She faces up to 10 years in prison if convicted on charges of transportation of drugs.
“The attending physician gave Brittney recommendations for the use of medical cannabis,” her lawyer Maria Blagovolina said in court. “The permission was issued on behalf of the Arizona Department of Health.” According to the Associated Press, on Friday (July 15), her defense additionally submitted drug tests that Griner underwent as part of an “anti-doping check” in which prohibited substances weren’t detected in her system.
During her last court date, Griner expressed to the courts that she never intended to break any Russian laws. She told the judge, “I’d like to plead guilty, your honor. But there was not intent. I didn’t want to break the law.” She added, “I’d like to give my testimony later. I need time to prepare.” Since the guilty plea, it seems her legal team has shifted its focus to in-person and written testimonies on behalf of Griner’s good character and athletic accomplishments.
Following the court hearing in Khimki, U.S. Embassy charge d’affaires Elizabeth Rood said, “In the hearings yesterday and today, what became very clear is the tremendous amount of respect and admiration both in the United States and here in Russia where Miss Griner has been playing basketball for seven years, not only for her professional achievements but for her character and integrity.” The director and team captain of UMMC Ektaerinburg—Griner’s offseason basketball team—testified on her behalf on Thursday as well.
In addition to support from her legal representation, wife, teammates, and fans, the Biden administration has made sure to assure Griner that they are doing all they can for her release, as well as that of other “wrongfully detained” Americans by Russia.
Griner’s detention has been reportedly authorized until December 20, which could prolong the trial for months. Her lawyers stated they’re expecting the case to conclude sometime in early August. The next hearing of Griner’s case is scheduled for July 26.