Brittney Griner was prescribed medicinal cannabis for ‘severe chronic pain’, lawyers in court say

Griner’s defense team submitted a letter to the Russian court from a US medical center granting Griner a 2020 permit to use medicinal cannabis to treat her chronic pain from sports injuries in Arizona.

Also on Friday, Griner’s trial was postponed to July 26 after her attorneys said they needed more time to prepare for next steps. Griner, 31, has pleaded guilty to drug-related offenses, which carry a sentence of up to 10 years in prison. The defense hopes that the lawsuit will be considered a mitigating circumstance and that the verdict will not be harsh.

“Yesterday was quite an emotional day for her,” attorney Alexander Boykov told reporters outside the court after Friday’s hearing ended. “She saw her general manager, friend and teammate Evgeniya Belyakova for the first time in many months. And now she just wants to rest.”

“She’s tired,” added lawyer Maria Blagovolina. “Yesterday was pretty tough for them. But it went well.”

During Thursday’s hearing, the court heard testimony from Belyakova, the team captain of UMMC Ekaterinburg, the Russian basketball team that Griner played for during the WNBA off-season, and team leader Maksim Ryabkov. Both were presented as character witnesses in Griner’s defense.

Elizabeth Rood, chargé d’affaires at the US Embassy in Moscow, said in a statement that over the past two days of the hearings, “It has become very clear how much respect and admiration there is, both in the United States and here in Russia, that Ms. Griner has been playing for seven years of basketball, not only because of her professional achievements, but also because of her character and integrity.”

Griner was arrested at a Moscow airport on February 17 and accused by Russian authorities of carrying cannabis oil in her luggage and smuggling significant quantities of a narcotic. During the trial, a prosecutor said Griner was carrying less than a gram of cannabis oil, which is considered a controlled narcotic in Russia.

She was drug tested and clean, her attorneys previously said.

Doctor’s report submitted as evidence

The two-time US basketball Olympics gold medalist was arrested a week before Russia invaded Ukraine, stoking fears from her family and colleagues that she is being used as a political pawn amid escalating diplomatic tensions between Russia and the US.

The Phoenix Mercury player said in court last week that she had no intention of carrying the cannabis oil in her luggage, saying through her interpreter that it was the result of her “hurried packing,” state-run RIA Novosti news agency reported .

On Friday in court, Blagovolina read a letter from a US medical center, which read: “On May 18, 2020, Brittney Griner underwent a clinical examination … The patient complained of acute chronic pain from multiple ankle injuries, as well as injuries and pain during suffered from their sports career. The patient complained of pain in her middle back, lower back, knees and ankle.”

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Blagovolina submitted the letter as evidence along with 2018 medical test results and a 2020 medical report from an American doctor confirming that Griner had “a chronic debilitating illness caused by severe chronic pain.”

According to Blagovolina, the doctor advised Griner to use medicinal cannabis because of the diagnosed “chronic and debilitating condition” that was “causing chronic and acute pain.”

In a written statement, Griner’s attorneys said on Friday, “The defense presented written evidence today, including character-supporting material, medical records and tax returns that Griner left among her belongings when crossing the border.

Griner’s wife, along with politicians, coaches, players and numerous supporters of the WNBA, have been vocal in calling for her release. She topped Sunday’s WNBA All-Star game in Chicago, where Griner was named an honorary All-Star and players donned jerseys with their names and numbers on the back.

“She is our sister and at the end of the day we will do whatever it takes to reinforce the platform we need to have to make sure everyone is doing what they need to be doing to make sure she gets home safely.” said Las Vegas Aces player A’ja Wilson after the game. “It is difficult. It’s hard for all of us. It is not easy. Not a day goes by that I don’t think of Brittney Griner.”

“We miss her and her energy so much”

Ryabkov told reporters after Thursday’s hearing that he testified in court “what a big role she played in the success of the Yekaterinburg club and Russian women’s basketball in general with her performances in the Euroleague” and “how she influenced our national standings.” increased”. “

According to her statement, Belyakova described the jailed player to reporters as “a good teammate”.

“We miss her and her energy so much,” she said. “I was very happy to see her. I hope the process ends soon and ends well.”

Griner’s wife, Cherelle Griner, spoke with President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris last week after publicly criticizing the government’s response to her wife’s imprisonment. Cherelle Griner told CNN in June she wanted the White House to do more to get her wife safely back to the United States and said she wasn’t convinced the government’s actions would be enough.
It has been 130 days since WNBA star Brittney Griner was arrested in Russia and her trial is about to begin.  Your wife wants US officials to do more to get her home
In a handwritten letter to Biden, Brittney Griner asked the president to continue fighting for the return of her and other American inmates.

“[As]sitting here in a Russian prison, alone with my thoughts and without the protection of my wife, family, friends, Olympic jersey or any accomplishments, I fear that I might be here forever,” she wrote to a statement released by the communications company representing the Griner family.

“On July 4th, our family typically honors the service of those who fought for our freedom, including my father, who is a Vietnam War veteran. It hurts to think how I usually celebrate this day because freedom means a whole different year to me,” she wrote.

It was Griner’s decision to plead guilty, according to her legal team, who said in a statement that she “has decided to take full responsibility for her actions, knowing that she is a role model for many people.”

Alongside Griner, US citizen Paul Whelan is also imprisoned in Russia after being arrested in 2018 and sentenced to 16 years in prison on espionage charges, which he vehemently denies.

After Cherelle Griner’s call, the White House released a selection of the call, which highlighted the President’s efforts to communicate with the families of American prisoners.

“The President directed his national security team to remain in regular contact with the families of Cherelle and Brittney and other families of Americans held hostage or wrongly detained abroad to update them on efforts to get their loved ones released as soon as possible updated,” the White House said.

CNN’s Abby Phillip, Frederik Pleitgen, Betsy Klein, Dakine Andone, Alaa Elassar, Chris Liakos, Tara John, Rosa Flores, Jacqueline Rose, Alexa Miranda, Ben Church, and Homero De la Fuente contributed to this report.

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