In February of this year, Russia proved that they will arrest even highly visible American for minor charges. On February 17th, WNBA star number 42, who plays for the Phoenix Mercury’s, Brittney Griner, was arrested when the Russian Federal Customs Service claimed they found hashish oil in the form of vape cartridges in her luggage at the Sheremetyevo Airport near Moscow.
During the offseason, Brittney played for UMMC Ekaterinburg in the Russian Premier League along with other WNBA stars. All other WNBA players were able to leave Russia safely, but Griner remains in a Russian detainment facility.
Griner has been allowed to communicate with her wife and other family through her attorney, and the US justice department is continuously working to try to have Griner released, as well as other Americans being held unjustly in the Russian detention centers. Griner’s attorneys report that she is doing as well as can be expected, but her wrongful detainment is a top priority for the United States Justice Department, who is actively seeking to bring her home.
The WNBA released a statement in March expressing their continuing support for Griner as a top priority. Griner’s wife and teammates continue thanking fans for their continued prayers and support, and in May, the WNBA said they will display Brittney’s initials and jersey number on the sidelines of all WNBA courts this season and will continue to pay Griner her full salary throughout her wrongful detainment.
After multiple extensions of her detainment duration, including extension in March, May, and June, Griner’s trial finally began officially on July 1 in a court in Moscow. The charges that were made by the prosecutor claim that she “bought two cartridges for personal use, which contained 0.252 grams and 0.45 grams of hash oil, totaling 0.702 grams”. And movement of narcotic drugs in any form is strictly prohibited in Russia, and the prosecution claims that Griner was well aware of this at the time that she attempted to travel with the cartridges.
At this moment, Griner has not entered a plea or made any comments on the charges, but will likely enter her plea in court, soon. Russian courts have denied transferring Brittney to a detention facility on home soil in the United States, and President Biden has continued to uphold that her detention in the Russian facility is wrongful. While many American face wrongful detainment by foreign governments, it is not often that someone that is a highly visible public figure is held without the option to transfer them back to US control.
If you plan to travel with your cannabis products, always ensure that you know the local laws and regulations.