WNBA star Brittney Griner treated injuries with medicinal cannabis, defense argues as trial continues

KHIMKI, Russia — The defense team of US basketball player Brittney Griner, who was jailed on drug-related charges in Russia, argued in court Tuesday that she, like many other top international athletes, used medicinal cannabis to relieve pain from injuries.

Griner, a star of the Women’s National Basketball Association who played in Russia during the league’s offseason, was arrested at a Moscow airport on February 17 with vape cartridges containing hash oil in her luggage. Medical marijuana is illegal in Russia.

She faces a possible prison sentence of up to 10 years in a case that has highlighted strained relations between Russia and the United States at a time of heightened tensions over Moscow’s military intervention in Ukraine.

A narcology expert summoned by the defense argued that medicinal cannabis is widely used to treat athletes where legal, and often has fewer side effects than other painkillers.

“With the prescription in place, Brittney may have used it for medicinal purposes but not recreationally,” said attorney Maria Blagovolina, a partner at the law firm Rybalkin, Gortsunyan, Dyakin and Partners.

Wearing round-rimmed glasses and a black and gray sweatshirt with “Black Lives For Peace” written on the back, Griner listened to negotiations for a translator.

Before taking her seat in the defendant’s cage, she held up a lined piece of paper with pictures of her two best friends, a teammate, and her wife, Cherelle, who was wearing her #42 Phoenix Mercury jersey, her WNBA team.

The two-time Olympic gold medalist, who has appealed to US President Joe Biden to secure her release, has pleaded guilty but denied she intended to break Russian law.

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Griner – known to basketball fans as “BG” – will appear in court again Wednesday, where she could be asked to testify. Another hearing in the case is scheduled for Aug. 2, Griner’s defense team said.

US officials and prominent athletes argue the 31-year-old was wrongly arrested and have called for her immediate release. The Russian authorities reject the US criticism, the Kremlin says the case has nothing to do with politics.

https://www.nbcnews.com/news/world/wnba-star-brittney-griner-treated-injuries-medical-cannabis-defense-ar-rcna39973 WNBA star Brittney Griner treated injuries with medicinal cannabis, defense argues as trial continues

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