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Brittney Griner In Russia – 9-Year Sentence For Illegal Drugs

On August 4, a Russian court sentenced American professional basketball player Brittney Griner to nine years in prison for illegal drug possession and smuggling.

In a regional court in Khimki in Moscow, Judge Anna Sotnikova found the 31-year-old athlete guilty of violating drug-related Russian laws.

While in a Russian airport, authorities found Griner in possession of cannabis oil (approximately less than a gram).

The prosecutors originally wanted her to serve 9.5 years in jail.

Per existing Russian laws, her violation warrants up to a 10-year maximum verdict.

Her sentence was eventually reduced to nine years, plus a fine of 1 million rubles (around $16,576).

A court interpreter translated in English for Brittney Griner the court proceedings.

What Happened To Brittney Griner Before Her Trial?

On February 17, Brittney Yevette Griner arrived at the Sheremetyevo Alexander S. Pushkin International Airport in Khimki, a city near Moscow.

Griner flew to Russia to play for UMMC Ekaterinburg, a Yekaterinburg-based women’s basketball team.

Back in the U.S., the 6.7-foot tall native from Houston, Texas, plays center for Phoenix Mercury of the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA).

During the mandatory luggage inspection, airport authorities found cannabis oil inside vape cartridges.

It could be interesting to note that a few days after Griner’s arrest, the Russia-Ukraine conflict erupted.

On March 5, the Federal Customs Service of Russia announced that they arrested an American basketball player but did not give the person’s identity.

According to Deseret News, TASS reported about the incident.

The Russian state-owned news agency was the one that identified that the person arrested was one of WNBA’s star players, Brittney Griner.

As of June 27, she was detained for four and a half months already.

Her trial started on July 1.

A month passed and Griner got convicted.

Brittney Griner in black Phoenix long sleeve shirt and eyeglasses sitting inside a Russian prison cell in Russia holding a bottled water
Brittney Griner in black Phoenix long sleeve shirt and eyeglasses sitting inside a Russian prison cell in Russia holding a bottled water

Smokable Cannabis Oil

Is Brittney Griner a fan of vaping?

Cannabis oil is extracted from the Cannabis plant.

It’s also known as CBD oil, hash oil, hashish oil, hemp oil, and honey oil.

Cannabis is another term for marijuana, a prohibited drug in several countries.

A vaporizer cartridge (shortened to vape cartridge or vape cart) is a pen-like device made of glass.

It’s used to smoke cannabis. That’s why it’s also called a cannabis cartridge.

A vape cart usually contains half a gram or a gram of cannabis oil.

The two-time Olympic basketball gold medalist Brittney Griner landed in jail for that amount – and particular kind – of oil.

Brittney Griner – A Big Catch

Since 2014, Brittney Griner has been going to Russia to play in official game tournaments.

It’s an off-season at the WNBA.

So, the bemedalled player decided to play overseas and flew to her team in Russia.

Such is normal for professional basketball players to play for other teams abroad for additional income opportunities.

For her basketball prowess, her towering height notwithstanding, Brittney Griner is a big catch for any team.

Brittney Griner about to shoot a ball during a game rehearsal
Brittney Griner about to shoot a ball during a game rehearsal

Some of the recognitions she has achieved so far include the following:

1. All-Big 12 Women’s Basketball Player of the Year (2011, 2012, 2013)

2. ESPY Award (Excellence in Sports Performance Yearly Award) from the American Broadcasting Company (ABC)

  • Best Female Athlete (2012)
  • Best Female College Athlete (2012, 2013)

3. GLAAD Media Award for Special Recognition (from the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation; 2013)

Brittney Griner is a member of the LGBT community.

4. John R. Wooden Award (for college basketball players; 2012 and 2013)

5. Naismith Women’s College Player of the Year (2012, 2013)

6. NCAA Basketball Tournament Most Outstanding Player – Women (2012)

7. Wade Trophy (from the National Collegiate Athletic Association or NCAA; 2012 and 2013)

8. WNBA Defensive Player of the Year Award (2014)

Brittney Griner experienced championship three times (2015, 2016, 2017) while playing at the Russian Women’s Basketball Premier League for UMMC Ekaterinburg.

From 2013–2014, she played for the Chinese basketball team Zhejiang Golden Bulls (Zhejiang Chouzhou Golden Rent).

What’s The Score For Now For Brittney Griner?

On August 4, the White House released a brief official statement from U.S. President Joe Biden.

Biden described what happened to Brittney Griner as being “wrongfully detained.”

The 79-year-old POTUS also stated:

It’s unacceptable, and I call on Russia to release her immediately.

He promised that his administration will do all it can to have her released along with another prisoner, Paul Whelan.

Whelan, a Canadian police officer, has been detained in Russia since December 2018.

Brittney Griner in orange T-shirt with ‘USA’ print on it and a Nike logo below giving a peace sign
Brittney Griner in orange T-shirt with ‘USA’ print on it and a Nike logo below giving a peace sign

A few moments before the judge passed the verdict, Brittney Griner was given a chance to speak.

She apologized for her “mistake” and for the “embarrassment” that she caused to her family and American and Russian teammates.

She also told the court:

I made an honest mistake and I hope that in your ruling that it doesn’t end my life here.

On October 18, she will be turning 32.

Will Brittney Griner spend her very first birthday in prison – in a Russian cell thousands of miles away from her homeland?

This story doesn’t end yet.

About The Authors

William Willis

William Willis - William Willis is a freelance writer and social media manager who specializes in assisting finance professionals and Fintech entrepreneurs in growing their online audience and attracting more paying customers. William worked as a bank teller and virtual assistant for financial firms in the United States and the United Kingdom for six years before beginning her writing career. William is a strong force in the workplace, inspiring others to work hard and excel with her optimistic attitude and boundless energy. He enjoys hiking, crocheting, and playing video games with her grandchildren in her spare time.

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