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Griner had medical cannabis prescription, defense tells Russian court

Brittney Griner sits inside a defendants’ cage at her trial in a Russian court. (Natalia Kolesnikova/AFP via Getty Images)

Lawyers for WNBA star Brittney Griner provided a Russian court with a doctor’s note showing that she use medical cannabis to treat pain.

“The attending physician gave Brittney recommendations for the use of medical cannabis,” said Griner’s lawyer, Maria Blagovolina. “The permission was issued on behalf of the Arizona Department of Health.”

Griner, who plays center for the Phoenix Mercury, was detained in a Moscow area airport in February after Russian officials said they discovered vape cartridges containing cannabis oil in her luggage. The 31-year-old, who was in Russia competing with UMMC Ekaterinburg during the WNBA’s offseason, faces up to 10 years in a Russian prison on drug transportation charges.

On July 7, Griner pleaded guilty to the drug charges but asked the court for mercy, saying she did not intend to break the law.

Griner’s team also submitted records to the court Friday from an anti-doping check, which showed prohibited substances weren’t detected in her system. During the fourth day of her trial, Griner held up a photo from the WNBA All-Star game, with players wearing jerseys with her number 42.

President Joe Biden and his administration have been under public pressure to ensure Griner’s safe return to the United States, with Griner recently making a direct plea to Biden via letter.

Her case is wrapped up in the Russian invasion of Ukraine, which has led to diplomatic tension between the United States and Russia. U.S. officials have deemed that Griner is being wrongfully detained, leaving many supporters hopeful that Griner’s release will be secured through a prisoner exchange.

After Friday’s hearing, Griner’s trial was adjourned until July 26.