Brittney Griner was prescribed medical cannabis for ‘severe chronic pain,’ lawyers tell the court: On Friday, the attorneys for WNBA star Brittney Griner testified before Russian judges that their client was given a prescription for medical cannabis to treat “severe chronic pain.”
The legal team representing Griner provided the Russian court with a letter from a medical center in the United States that stated Griner will be granted permission to use medical cannabis in the state of Arizona in the year 2020. Griner suffers from chronic pain as a result of sports injuries.
Also on Friday, the trial of Griner was postponed to the 26th of July after her attorneys stated that they required further time to prepare for the subsequent steps. Griner, who is 31 years old, has entered a guilty plea to narcotics charges, which carry a potential jail sentence of up to ten years. The goal of the defense is that the court would view the guilty plea as a mitigating circumstance and reduce the severity of the punishment as a result.
The US authorities consider her arrest to be an instance of wrongful detention, and they have stated that they are “actively engaged” in attempting to find a solution to the problem.
The attorney Alexander Boykov told reporters outside the courthouse after the hearing closed on Friday that “yesterday was quite an emotional day for her.” “It had been many months since she had last seen Evgeniya Belyakova, who served as both her general manager and a friend and teammate. And at this point, all she wants to do is relax.”
Maria Blagovolina, the attorney, noted that her client was worn out. “Yesterday was a particularly challenging day for her. But it went good.”
The court heard testimony on Thursday from Belyakova, the team captain of UMMC Ekaterinburg, the Russian basketball team for which Griner played during the WNBA off-season, as well as Maksim Ryabkov, the director of the team. Both of these individuals were called as witnesses by the court. Both were called upon to testify about Griner’s character during the proceedings.
During the hearings that took place over the past two days, the charge d’affaires of the United States Embassy in Moscow, Elizabeth Rood, said in a statement that “what became very clear is the tremendous amount of respect and admiration both in the United States and here in Russia where Ms. Griner has been playing basketball for seven years,” not only for her professional achievements but also for her character and integrity. Rood was referring to the admiration and respect that Ms. Griner has garnered in
Russian police have accused Griner of carrying cannabis oil in her luggage and smuggling considerable volumes of a narcotic substance. Griner was detained on February 17 at a Moscow airport and charged with these offenses by Russian authorities. During the course of the trial, a prosecutor testified that Griner had less than one gram of cannabis oil on his person, which is a quantity that is considered to be a controlled substance in Russia.
Her attorneys have stated in the past that she was given a drug test and that she tested negative.
The two-time US Olympic gold medalist in basketball was detained one week before Russia invaded Ukraine, fueling the fears of her family and peers that she is being used as a political pawn due to the escalating diplomatic tension between Russia and the US. The US Olympic gold medalist in basketball won her first gold in 1996 and her second gold in 2004.
According to reports from a state news agency called RIA Novosti, the Phoenix Mercury player stated in court the previous week that she had no intention of transporting the cannabis oil in her luggage and that the fact that she did so was due to the fact that she was “packing up in a hurry.”
On Friday, Blagovolina received a letter from a medical facility in the United States, which stated, “Brittney Griner went in for a checkup in the hospital on the 18th of May, 2020… The patient suffered from acute and chronic pain as a result of repeated ankle injuries, in addition to injuries and discomfort she had received throughout her athletic career. The patient reported having pain in the center of their back, in their lower back, in their knees, and in their ankles.”
In her submission of proof, Blagovolina included not only the letter but also the results of medical tests performed in 2018 and a medical report written by an American physician in 2020 that confirmed Griner suffered from “a chronic disabling disease caused by significant chronic pain.”
According to Blagovolina, Griner was diagnosed with a “chronic and debilitating medical illness” that “produced chronic and acute pain,” and the doctor reportedly encouraged Griner to utilize medical cannabis as a treatment for his condition.
On Friday, Griner’s attorneys released a written statement in which they claimed, “Today, the defense presented written evidence, which included material that supported the defendant’s character, medical documents, and tax returns. Because of oversight on Brittney Griner’s part, she forgot to take her possessions with her when she crossed the border, therefore the medical documents include a prescription for the substance written by a physician. There are a number of letters of gratitude from a variety of organizations in Yekaterinburg that are included among the character reference documents. There are also letters from the US Basketball Associations, UMMC Ekaterinburg, and the Russian Basketball Federation.”
Along with lawmakers, coaches, players, and a large number of supporters from the WNBA, Griner’s wife has been vocal in her demand for her to be released. She was at the forefront of the WNBA All-Star game that took place on Sunday in Chicago. During the game, Griner was named an honorary All-Star, and players wore jerseys that included her name and number on the back of the jersey.
A’ja Wilson, a player for the Las Vegas Aces, said after the game, “She’s our sister, and at the end of the day, we are going to do anything we can to amplify the platform that we have to make sure that everyone is doing what they need to do to make sure that she comes home safely.” “It is not easy. We are all having a difficult time with it. It is not a simple task. It’s impossible for a day to go by without my mind wandering to Brittney Griner.”
‘We miss her and her energy so much,’ Ryabkov told reporters after Thursday’s hearing that he provided testimony to the court to tell them “what a big role she played in the success of the Ekaterinburg club and Russian women’s basketball in general with her performances in the Euroleague” and “how she raised our national rating.” Ryabkov also stated that he provided testimony to tell the court “what a big role she played in the success of the Ekaterinburg club and Russian women
After giving her testimony, Belyakova referred to the player who was being held in custody as a “nice teammate” to the reporters.
“We miss her and her enthusiasm so badly,” she said. “She was such a positive force.” “It was wonderful to see her again. I have high hopes that the procedure will be successful and conclude soon.”
After publicly criticizing the administration’s response to her wife’s arrest, Griner’s wife, Cherelle Griner, spoke with President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris last week. They discussed how the administration handled the situation. Cherelle Griner expressed to CNN in June that she wanted the White House to do more to ensure the safe return of her wife to the United States. She stated that she did not feel certain that the efforts taken by the administration were sufficient.
Brittney Griner pleaded with Vice President Biden, in a letter that was penned and handed to him, for the president to continue fighting for the return of her and other American detainees.
She wrote, according to a statement issued by the communications company that represents the Griner family, “(As) I sit here in a Russian prison, alone with my thoughts and without the protection of my wife, family, friends, Olympic jersey, or any accomplishments, I’m terrified I might be here forever.”
“The Fourth of July is traditionally a time for my family to recognize the sacrifices made by those who fought for our freedom, including my own father, who served in the Vietnam War. When I think about how I normally celebrate this day, it makes my head hurt because this year, freedom means something entirely different to me than it did last year “she had written.
According to her legal team, Griner made the decision to enter a guilty plea on her own. They added in a statement that she “decided to take full responsibility for her conduct since she recognizes that she is a role model for many people.” Griner’s guilty plea was the result of that decision.
Paul Whelan, a citizen of the United States, was arrested in 2018 and sentenced to 16 years in jail on charges of espionage, which he firmly rejects. Along with Griner, he is currently being held in Russian custody.
After the discussion with Cherelle Griner, the White House issued a summary of the session, in which they highlighted the efforts of the President to engage with the families of American detainees.
According to a statement issued by the White House, “The President directed his national security team to remain in regular contact with Cherelle and Brittney’s family, as well as with other families of Americans held hostage or wrongfully detained abroad, in order to keep them updated on efforts to secure the release of their loved ones as quickly as possible.” Cherelle and Brittney were two of four Americans who were taken hostage or wrongfully detained outside the United States.