A few weeks ago, Moscow officials arrested Phoenix Mercury center Brittney Griner at the Sheremetyevo airport near Moscow. Russian Federal Customs Service officials found vape cartridges that contained hashish oil in her luggage.
Circumstances Surrounding Situation
This has quickly become a dangerous situation for both Griner and the WNBA. The arrest comes at the height of the Russian-Ukrainian conflict. This means a potential delayed-release for the WNBA star. The US State Department released an updated advisory urging US citizens to leave the country immediately. Officials fear the “potential for harassment against US citizens by Russian government security officials.”
Russia has detained Griner since February 15 on drug charges. Due to the strenuous situation overseas, the WNBA player remains in Russia until further resolution. Griner will either have to face the Russian criminal justice system or be at the mercy of Russian President Vladimir Putin. The latter will become a reality if the government decides to make this case more political than judicial.
“We are aware of the situation with Brittney Griner in Russia and are in close contact with her, her legal representation in Russia, her family, her teams, and the WNBA and NBA,” said Griner’s agent Lindsay Kagawa Colas.
MPP CEO Reaction
Toi Hutchinson, President, and CEO of the Marijuana Policy Project, released the following statement regarding the arrest. The Marijuana Policy Project (MPP) stands by Phoenix Mercury’s Brittney Griner, the WNBA family. Multiple organizations call for her immediate release and safe return to the US.
“We, like the entire country, are monitoring the situation in Russia regarding Brittney Griner and join many others in calling for her swift and safe return home. While we don’t have direct knowledge of this particular situation, it is not uncommon for athletes to use these oils for their physical and mental health. They should not be penalized or stigmatized for doing so. Simple cannabis possession should never be cause for international geopolitics, as we are seeing play out in this case. After weeks of detention amid an increasingly uncertain and dangerous political environment, Brittney needs to be safely returned home as soon as humanly possible.”