Baskeball star Brittney Griner is currently being jailed in Russia for cannabis possession, according to news reports. Russian customs agents arrested the seven-time WNBA all-star on Feb. 17 at Sheremetyevo International Airport, just days before Russia launched its invasion of neighboring Ukraine.
Russia’s troop buildup in the weeks before the Feb. 24 invasion of Ukraine prompted the U.S. State Department to warn Americans not to travel Russia and urged U.S. nationals in Russia to leave the country if possible. The U.S. government expressed concern that Americans in Russia might become political targets amidst the rising tension between Moscow and Washington.
Unfortunately, it appears that Griner may now be just such a target of Russian hostility towards Ukraine’s political allies. Like many WNBA players, Griner has played for overseas professional clubs during her primary league’s offseason. She has played for the Zhejiang Golden Bulls of China’s WCBA and since 2015 for UMMC Ekaterinburg of the Russian Premier League and Euroleague, leading the latter team to multiple league titles.
The 31-year-old Phoenix Mercury center had her luggage searched upon arrival in Moscow following a flight from New York. Narcotics-sniffing dogs reacted to “the possible presence of narcotic substances” in her luggage, according to Rep. Colin Allred (D-TX). Griner is originally from Houston, TX.
Detained by Customs officials for vape cartridges
Russian customs officials say they found cannabis oil vape cartridges in her belongings. Cannabis is classified as an illegal narcotic in Russia.
The use of cannabis for either recreational or medicinal purposes is forbidden in Russia. Possession of up to 6 grams of cannabis is an administrative offense, punishable by a fine or detention of 15 days.Advertisement
Griner had been in Russian custody for 23 days as of Friday.
Possession of larger amounts of cannabis are punishable under the Russian Criminal Code and those convicted of non-authorized manufacturing, sale or delivery can receive an eight to 20-year prison sentence. Griner could be facing 10 years in Russian prison for her alleged personal possession of vapes, according to some sources but there has been no official verification of this by U.S. or Russian government agencies.
Griner’s decision to fulfill her contractual obligations to UMMC Ekaterinburg has proven to be disastrous, but it’s not difficult to understand her reasoning, even during a time of such political turbulence. Playing basketball overseas during the offseason lets the women of the WNBA earn something closer to the salaries of their male NBA counterparts. WNBA players’ salaries are capped at around $228,000. Players can earn four to five times that by playing in Europe.
Standing 6’9”, Griner was the No. 1 high school women’s basketball player in the U.S. before playing for Baylor in Waco,TX. She led the Bears to a national championship in 2012. Griner has twice earned Olympic gold medals with the United States women’s basketball team.
Cannaconvo with Peter Su of Green Check Verified
Cannabis Last Week with Jon Purow interviews Peter Su of Green Check Verified. Peter Su is a Senior Vice President with Green Check Verified, the top cannabis banking compliance software/consultancy in the space. A 20+ year veteran of the banking industry, Peter serves on the Banking & Financial Services committee of the National Cannabis Industry Association. He chairs the Banking and Financial Services Committee for the NYCCIA & HVCIA. He is an official member of the Rolling Stone Cannabis Culture Council. And, he is on the board of the Asian Cannabis Roundtable, serving as treasurer.
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