WNBA Star Brittney Griner Sentenced To 9 Years In Russian Prison For Marijuana Charge

Brittney Griner with a tattoo on her arm standing next to a man in a black shirt

Earlier this year, WNBA star Brittney Griner was detained in Russia, after the Russian Federal Customs Service discovered vape cartridges containing cannabis oil while she was at the airport, about to fly back to the states.

In Russia, getting caught with marijuana could lead to a maximum sentence of 10 years.

And now she’s learned her fate.

Griner has just been given a sentence for the Russian crime after a trial at the Khimki court outside of Moscow, and the verdict is nine years in prison, according to the New York Post.

The verdict came after Griner’s closing statements, where she said:

“I want the court to understand that this was an honest mistake that I made while rushing, under stress, trying to recover from COVID, and just trying to get back to my team.

I know everybody keeps talking about political pawn and politics, but I hope that is far from this courtroom. I made an honest mistake and I hope that in your ruling, that it doesn’t end my life here in Russia.”

After the verdict was announced, President Joe Biden released a statement condemning the sentencing:

“Today, American citizen Brittney Griner received a prison sentence that is one more reminder of what the world already knew: Russia is wrongfully detaining Brittney.

It’s unacceptable, and I call on Russia to release her immediately so she can be with her wife, loved ones, friends, and teammates.”

Biden then said he’d work continuously to do everything in his power to bring her home, along with Paul Whelan, an American who is jailed in Russia on an espionage conviction.

Throughout the trial, Griner, while pleading guilty, said she never intended to break Russian law, and that she accidentally placed the cannabis cartridges in her bag while “stress packing.”

She also noted she did not intend to use the 0.7 grams of cannabis oil she brought to Russia, because she was aware of the laws there.

Lawyers for the Phoenix Mercury center presented character witnesses, along with written testimony from a doctor who said he prescribed the cannabis to Griner for pain treatment.

Defense attorney Maria Blagovolina said that Griner brought the cartridges only to use as medicine, and only while in Arizona, where medical marijuana is legal.


A beer bottle on a dock



A beer bottle on a dock