Brittney Griner's defense team argues she used marijuana to treat pain

Griner pleaded guilty to a drug charge earlier this month. She was accused of bringing in vape cartridges containing oils derived from cannabis through a Moscow airport in February and has been detained ever since. She has yet to be sentenced and could face up to 10 years in jail.

Griner’s defense argued she used medical marijuana to treat pain from injuries like many other professional athletes. Medical marijuana is against the law in Russia.

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WNBA star and two-time Olympic gold medalist Brittney Griner speaks to her lawyers standing in a cage at a courtroom prior to a hearing, in Khimki just outside Moscow, Russia, July 26, 2022. 

WNBA star and two-time Olympic gold medalist Brittney Griner speaks to her lawyers standing in a cage at a courtroom prior to a hearing, in Khimki just outside Moscow, Russia, July 26, 2022.  (Alexander Zemlianichenko/Pool via REUTERS)

“With the prescription in place, Brittney may have used it for medical but not recreational purposes,” lawyer Maria Blagovolina said in court, via Reuters.

Another hearing was then scheduled for Wednesday.

During the trial, a U.S. Embassy representative fainted in the courtroom. According to Russian media, the embassy representative tried to leave during the hearing and fainted at the door. The person was reportedly taken to the hospital. It is unclear why the person fainted.

The U.S. State Department has classified Griner as “wrongfully detained.” Griner acknowledged she had the canisters with her but had no intention of breaking the law.

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WNBA star and two-time Olympic gold medalist Brittney Griner speaks to her lawyers standing in a cage at a courtroom prior to a hearing, in Khimki just outside Moscow, Russia, July 26, 2022. 

WNBA star and two-time Olympic gold medalist Brittney Griner speaks to her lawyers standing in a cage at a courtroom prior to a hearing, in Khimki just outside Moscow, Russia, July 26, 2022.  (Alexander Zemlianichenko/Pool via REUTERS)

Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said Thursday the U.S. laws legalizing cannabis in some states have no bearing on what happens in Russia.

“If a U.S. citizen was taken in connection with the fact that she was smuggling drugs, and she does not deny this, then this should be commensurate with our Russian local laws and not with those adopted in San Francisco, New York and Washington,” Zakharova said.

“You understand, if drugs are legalized in the United States — in a number of states — and this is done for a long time, and now the whole country will become drug addicted. This does not mean that all other countries are following the same path.”

Russian media has speculated that Griner could be exchanged for Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout, who is imprisoned in the U.S. Russian authorities have said that no swap could take place until Griner is sentenced.

Phoenix Mercury center Brittney Griner, #42, shoots during the first half of Game 1 of the WNBA basketball Finals against the Chicago Sky, on Oct. 10, 2021, in Phoenix.

Phoenix Mercury center Brittney Griner, #42, shoots during the first half of Game 1 of the WNBA basketball Finals against the Chicago Sky, on Oct. 10, 2021, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Ralph Freso, File)

A Russian court has authorized Griner’s detention until Dec. 20.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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