Lawyers representing WNBA star Brittney Griner presented proof Griner received medical clearance in the U.S. for cannabis use during her Russian trial on drug charges Friday, adding credibility to Griner’s claims she didn’t intend to break the law, though it may not help her actual case considering Russia’s strict drug laws.
Griner’s defense presented a note that was included in Griner’s luggage, from a doctor based in Arizona, which recommended Griner use medical marijuana to treat her pain, one of her defense attorneys Maria Blagovolina told the Associated Press and Reuters.
Marijuana use is illegal for recreational and medicinal purposes in Russia.
Griner’s lawyers also presented evidence Friday that drug tests didn’t detect any prohibited substances in Griner’s system, according to the Associated Press.
Griner pleaded guilty last Thursday to drug charges after Russian authorities allegedly discovered vape cartridges containing hashish oil in her luggage in February, and faces a prison sentence of up to 10 years.
Griner admitted in court last week she had the vape cartridges in her luggage, but has said she had no criminal intent. Griner’s lawyers said in court Friday she “inadvertently” brought the illicit cartridges to Russia, according to Reuters. The owner of Griner’s Russian team UMMC Ekaterinburg, as well as one of her teammates, testified as character witnesses for Griner on Thursday. The Associated Press reports Griner’s next hearing will take place July 26. Griner is one of only two known Americans imprisoned in Russia. The State Department considers Griner wrongfully imprisoned as the U.S. and Russia spar in a diplomatic war amid Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Griner’s treatment has sparked outrage in the U.S., including from NBA star LeBron James, who said in a clip released Tuesday, “How can she feel like America has her back?”