- Thirty-one year old All-American Brittany Griner was born in Houston, Texas. As a professional basketball player, she is part of the Phoenix Mercury team and belongs to the Women’s National Basketball Association.
- Some of her accolades include being named the nation’s number 1 high school women’s basketball player, receiving the Best Female Athlete ESPY Award, and an endorsement from Nike. She was also on the United States Olympic team and the U.S women’s national team.
- In February 2022 Griner was traveling to Russia to play for the Russian Premier League. She was detained by customs for carrying cartridges containing hash oil. According to Healthline, hash oil “is a concentrated cannabis extract that can be smoked, vaped, eaten, or rubbed onto the skin.” Hash oil contains up to 90 percent more THC than marijuana plants and products.
- All types of marijuana – medical or recreational – are illegal in Russia. Possessing, selling, and growing cannabis in Russia is illegal. CBD products are also illegal. Six or more grams of cannabis can result in a prison sentence. Griner’s crime – smuggling narcotics in ‘significant amount’ – carries a minimum sentence of five to ten years in prison.
- In her Mascow trial, Griner was slapped with a 9.5 year prison sentence. According to the Washington Post, Griner may be sent to a penal colony, “a Russian prison facility known for brutal conditions” that requires inmates to spend their sentence doing hard labor. Conditions inside these facilities have been likened to a concentration camp.
- If you are arrested in another country, the first thing you should do is contact the local U.S Embassy. They can find you an attorney who speaks English, contact your family, and make sure you are being treated fairly during your incarceration. They can also advise you on the criminal justice system in that country.
- Both the WNBPA and the Phoenix Mercury released press statements expressing the utmost concern for Griner’s safety and safe return home. The Phoenix Mercury, in a tweet, wrote that they are in contact with Griner’s family, her representation, the WNBA and the NBA.
- Biden calls Griner’s charges “unacceptable” and his administration proposes a prison swap: they give Russia their arms dealer, Victor Bout, back in exchange for Brittney Griner – but there’s more: Biden also wants Paul Whelan. Whelan, a fifty-year-old American Marine Corps veteran and security executive, was detained in Moscow in 2018 and charged as a spy. Whelan claims he was set up in a sting operation when he was unknowingly handed a flash drive with classified information.
- There has been tons of public speculation over the Britney Griner case. Some people are calling the United States’ inaction racism, or even a demonstration of our country’s lack of respect for women’s sports. Others believe that Russia gave Griner the max sentence as an act of retribution against the Biden Administration, which has been assisting Ukraine in the war between Ukraine and Russia. Whatever the case, the entire world is watching the events of this case unfold.
- Griner claims she made an honest mistake by carrying hash oil abroad – explaining that she had packed in a hurry.
Before traveling, always familiarize yourself with the customs and laws in place at your destination. Keep yourself safe and do not – under any circumstances – attempt to travel to a foreign country with illegal substances (especially if that foreign country has extremely severe consequences for possession).
Jacqui Donaldson is an American writer and teacher. Her work has been published in The Vehicle, Loud Coffee Press, Across the Margin and others. Connect with Jacqui on Instagram and Twitter @Jacquiverse