Brittney Griner’s lawyers told a Russian court that the WNBA star was prescribed medical cannabis at the latest hearing for Griner’s drug possession trial on Friday.
Griner was detained at a Moscow-area airport for having vape cartridges containing cannabis oil in her luggage, resulting in the drug smuggling charges. However, during the hearing, Griner’s lawyers produced a U.S. doctor’s letter that recommended the Phoenix Mercury star use medical marijuana to treat pain.
“The attending physician gave Brittney recommendations for the use of medical cannabis,” Griner’s lawyer Maria Blagovolina told the court, adding that the WNBA player “inadvertently” forgot to bring the two-year-old medical marijuana prescription when she traveled to Russia. “The permission was issued on behalf of the Arizona Department of Health,” NBC News reports.
Although Griner has already pleaded guilty to drug smuggling charges and faces up to 10 years in prison, the trial is still expected to last months as Griner’s defense makes their case that the alleged “large-scale transportation of drugs” was unintentional.
Friday’s hearing included testimonials praising Griner’s character by members of her Russian basketball team UMMC Ekaterinburg, with a fellow player calling Griner “the heart of our team.”
Griner, who wore a Nirvana tee to the proceedings, did not address the court at the hearing. Her next hearing is scheduled for July 26.
The WNBA all-star and Olympian previously penned a handwritten letter to President Joe Biden asking him for help.
“Please do all you can to bring us home,” Griner wrote. “I voted for the first time in 2020, and I voted for you. I believe in you. I still have so much good to do with my freedom that you can help restore. I miss my wife! I miss my family! I miss my teammates! It kills me to know they are suffering so much right now. I am grateful for whatever you can do at this moment to get me home.”
Last week, Biden reached out to Griner’s wife, Cherelle, reading her a letter he drafted in response. U.S. Embassy Charge d’Affaires Elizabeth Rood delivered that letter to Griner.
“President Biden has been clear about the need to see all US nationals who are held hostage or wrongfully detained abroad released, including Brittney Griner. The US government continues to work aggressively – using every available means – to bring her home,” National Security Council spokeswoman Adrienne Watson previously said in a statement. “The President’s team is in regular contact with Brittney’s family, and we will continue to work to support her family.”
In regards to a possible prisoner exchange between the two embattled countries – rumored to include “Merchant of Death” arms dealer Viktor Bout – Russian officials have previously stated that that would not occur until after there is a verdict in the Griner trial.