/  07.15.2022

As WNBA champ Brittney Griner returned to a Russian courtroom today (July 15), new details that may help her case have been shared. As previously reported by REVOLT, the Phoenix Mercury center has been detained since February after officials discovered she was traveling with a vape cartridge containing cannabis oil — an illegal substance in Russia.

Maria Blagovolina told a judge that her client was legally authorized to use cannabis, according to the New York Post. The prescription was reportedly for a chronic injury. “The attending physician gave Brittney recommendations for the use of medical cannabis,” Blagovolina said in court. She noted, “The permission was issued on behalf of the Arizona Department of Health.” The attorney continued, “The defense today provided written evidence, including character materials, medical documents and tax returns. Among the medical documents is a doctor’s note for the substance that Brittney Griner inadvertently left among her belongings when crossing the border.”

Earlier this month (July 7), while pleading guilty, Griner told a judge she never meant to travel with the substance. “I’d like to plead guilty, your honor. But there was no intent. I didn’t want to break the law. I was in a rush packing and the cartridges accidentally ended up in my bag,” the Olympian said. Yesterday (July 14), Griner also had help from members of her Russian basketball team, UMMC Ekaterinburg. Team director Maxim Ryabkov and team captain Yevgenia Belyakova gave character statements on Griner’s behalf. The athlete played with them for six seasons during the WNBA’s off-season.

Griner will reportedly remain in Russian custody until Dec. 20. She faces up to 10 years in prison for carrying the vape cartridges with cannabis oil. Back home, her American teammates are hoping for a safe return. During the WNBA All-Star game on July 10, Commissioner Cathy Engelbert spoke to reporters about Griner, saying, “She remains a huge priority for us, [and] continues to have our full support.”

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