27 Jul 2022 18:54

U.S. basketball player Griner says in court she did not intend to violate Russian laws

KHIMKI, Moscow region. July 27 (Interfax) - American basketball player Brittney Griner, charged with possessing and smuggling narcotic substances in Russia, said during questioning in court that she used medical marijuana found in her possession with doctors' permission, but did not intend to take it to Russia.

"I did not intend to violate Russian laws. [...] I was in a rush packing [...] dumped my stuff into my bag," Griner said during questioning at the Khimki City Court on Wednesday.

The defendant pointed out that she is aware that drugs are prohibited in Russia and that she did not intend to bring vape cartridges with medical marijuana, which she was found in possession of upon her arrival, to the country.

Griner explained that she used medical marijuana instead of analgesics in the United States with doctors' permission. It is a common practice, including among athletes, in the United States, she said.

At the same time, she did not use marijuana during the game season because it could have resulted in disqualification of both her and her entire team, Griner said.

She was on a leave in the U.S. prior to her return to Russia and was fatigued because of the jet-lag and recent recovery from coronavirus, she said.

Griner added that she decided to return to Russia despite recommendations of the U.S. authorities because she could not let her team down.

Answering a state prosecutor's question about her admission of guilt, Griner said that she admits it with respect to the incident, but pointed out that she did not intend to do it.

The athlete emphasized that she did not plan to smuggle or possess banned substances.

"I didn't plan or have the intent to bring any cannabis or banned substances to Russia. I do understand what my charges are, against me. And with them being in my bags I take responsibility but I didn't smuggle or planned to smuggle anything to Russia," Griner said.

Griner was charged with illegal possession of narcotic substances without intent of drug dealing and large-scale drug smuggling.

According to the case summary, on February 17, 2022, Griner arrived in Moscow on a plane from New York, and hashish oil was found in her luggage.

Griner is currently in custody.

In Russia, Griner played for the Yekaterinburg-based basketball club UMMC Ekaterinburg.