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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Howard chapter.

On February 17, 2022, Brittney Griner was traveling overseas to Russia during the offseason of the WNBPA. She was detained at the Sheremetyevo Airport after customs officials found vape cartridges that contained cannabis in her luggage. On March 5th the Russian Federal Customs Service reported to the New York Times that they had Brittney Griner in custody on drug charges. Due to this, Griner was facing a sentence of ten years. Her agent expressed that Griner’s team was working to get her home.

The drug laws are very strict in Russia. Marijuana is illegal for all recreational and medical purposes. There are more people imprisoned under drug possession in Russia than under any other crime. This is Article 228 and considered “the people’s statue” because of these statistics. Russian law also forbids “narco-propaganda” which is the promotion of narcotics. In the trial, Griner’s lawyer presented evidence of doctor’s notes that expressed that she has medical clearance for the use of marijuana products. Due to Russia’s disbelief of the healing properties of marijuana, this evidence was inadmissible in court.

On October 25, 2022, the Russian Court rejected Brittney Griner’s appeal of her nine-year sentence. There have been discussions about a prisoner exchange, but officials do not believe that Russia will participate in this exchange. The time that Griner has spent awaiting her sentence will be counted toward the time served which means she will serve about eight years in Russian prison. Her lawyer expressed that “We still think the punishment is excessive and contradicts to the existing court practice.” Griner awaits transfer and fears that she will be moved to one of the notorious prisons in Russia. As of now, she is still serving time in a safer Moscow jail.

Hello, my name is Aysia Shelley! I am a junior criminology major, legal communications minor from New Baltimore, MI.