Brittney Griner convicted in Russian court of drug smuggling, sentenced to 9 years

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After a six-month detention and a one-month trial, Brittney Griner was convicted and sentenced to nine years in Russian jail for drug-smuggling. Brittney had pled guilty to the charges, but said there was no intent. The sentence is just under the 10-year maximum. Brittney spoke in court before the verdict, apologized, and asked for leniency, saying that she “never meant to hurt anybody,” it was “an honest mistake,” and she hoped the ruling wouldn’t “end [her] life here.” Her lawyers said they would appeal, that court ignored evidence, and that the average jail time for this is usually five years.

American women’s basketball star Brittney Griner was convicted of deliberately smuggling drugs into Russia and sentenced to nine years of jail time Thursday in a case that has raised concerns she is being used as a political pawn in Russia’s war against Ukraine.

Judge Anna Sotnikova of the Khimki city court delivered the sentence and fined Griner 1 million rubles, or about $16,400. She said the court took into account Griner’s partial admission of guilt, remorse for the deed, state of health and charitable activities. Prosecutors had asked that she be sentenced to 9.5 years in jail.

Prior to the verdict, Griner apologized to the court and asked for leniency in an emotional speech.

“I never meant to hurt anybody, I never meant to put in jeopardy the Russian population, I never meant to break any laws here,” Griner said. “I made an honest mistake and I hope that in your ruling that it doesn’t end my life here. I know everybody keeps talking about political pawn and politics, but I hope that, that is far from this courtroom.

“I want to say again that I had no intent on breaking any Russian laws. I had no intent. I did not conspire or plan to commit this crime,” she added.

After the sentence, Griner told a CNN producer as she left court, “I love my family.”

The verdict comes about six months after the 31-year-old was arrested at a Moscow airport and accused by Russian prosecutors of trying to smuggle less than 1 gram of cannabis oil in her luggage. The two-time US Olympic basketball gold medalist pleaded guilty to drug charges last month and said she accidentally packed the drugs while in a hurry.

Griner’s lawyers, Maria Blagovolina and Alexander Boykov, said in a written statement they will appeal the decision and criticized the court for ignoring their evidence. They have 10 days to appeal…

“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 said in a statement.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken criticized the Russian legal system more broadly, saying the sentence “puts a spotlight on our significant concerns with Russia’s legal system and the Russian government’s use of wrongful detentions to advance its own agenda, using individuals as political pawns.”

[From CNN]

Most cases like these, in Russia, result in a conviction and jail time. So this verdict was pretty much a foregone conclusion, but disheartening nonetheless. The New York Times described the situation thusly: “Her conviction was thought to be a formality and a prerequisite for a prisoner swap that could lead to her return to the United States.” As the court case was ongoing, the Biden administration offered a “substantial proposal”  to Russia in order to bring home Brittney and another American detainee, Paul Whelan. They were said to be offering a Russian arms dealer in exchange for Brittney and Paul, however negotiations stalled when Russia requested to add a convicted murderer in German custody to the swap. Experts quoted in the NYT are mixed, with some thinking negotiations will ramp up now that Brittney has been sentenced and others thinking that the deal will not take place anytime soon. At this point, the National Security Council has said further public discussion of the negotiations is likely unhelpful for the two American prisoners. Another NYT article has more details on what is possibly coming next for Brittney and what considerations the US may be weighing as they continue to negotiate her and Paul’s release. In the meantime, Brittney is back at the same detention center and her lawyers are hoping to get her in touch with her family next week. Brittney is said to have “won over” some of the guards and other inmates at the detention center. It’s still a completely sh-tty situation, at least she’s not totally isolated in solitude there and her lawyers seem solid.

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59 Responses to “Brittney Griner convicted in Russian court of drug smuggling, sentenced to 9 years”

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  1. Amy T says:

    I’ve heard this described as a hostage situation, which it absolutely is, and connected to Putin’s attack on Ukraine.

    There’s also a teacher named Marc Fogel in a Russian jail for having medical marijuana – I hope they can both get home soon. (Article below, and I “gifted” it, so no paywall.)

    • Wiglet Watcher says:

      I’ve heard this one. There’s been no real motion towards helping him and it makes you wonder how many others are there. How many are sure to be forgotten and left to die because they don’t have name recognition.

    • SAS says:

      I cannot for the life of me understand why this Whelan guy is being negotiated for over Marc Fogel! Such an awful story that mirrors Brittany.

      Not too much longer for her now hopefully.

      • Smart&Messy says:

        My tin foil hat theory is that Whelan really did spy for the US and he got caught. Now the US govt don’t want to leave their guy behind.
        If he really did espionage, I wouldn’t be surprised to hear that Trump somehow compromised his position and that’s why he got caught. Like he did with undercover agents in the Middle East warzone, by blabbering about confidential information.

      • SAS says:

        @Smart&Messy, You could be right. At first I thought it was the military history but he was discharged for bad conduct?? The poor teacher though.

    • Colby says:

      This. It’s so awful that because he’s not famous, someone in their 70s will most likely die in a Russian labor camp.

    • Lucy says:

      Absolutely a hostage situation. She’s also Black and queer, which Putin cannot abide. And whether intentional or not, this situation is highlighting that America does the exact same shit to Black and brown folks with a little weed. I hope they are able to get hey home quickly and that it is the catalyst for decriminalizing weed and expunging records stateside.

      • Fabiola says:

        If she had been white she would still be in jail. This is wartime. They will get whatever American convicted and thrown in jail that they can.

      • Lucy says:

        @Fabiola No. I will not play the “If she was white…” game. The fact that she is Black and queer absolutely matters here.

      • bettyrose says:

        There’s a lot going on here. The fact that she’s black and queer absolutely matters in Putin’s Russia. They’re also holding her hostage as a political pawn in war time. And the American response is influenced by the fact that she’s black and queer. Imagine if pretty blonde with enchanting blue eyes was being held hostage in Russia for a minor offense, how the tone would be different in comments sections. Heck, Trump himself would probably try to play the hero while making back end deals with his good pal Putin.

        I’m so sick over this whole situation and so worried for her. She’s young and has a whole life ahead of her, loved ones back home who must be living in daily terror.

      • Lizzie says:

        It probably doesnt matter at all, but youre thinking in narrow American identitarian terms, which is not even remotely the context of Russian society.

    • Lizzie says:

      Its actually US-Russia war, in Ukraine. Kind of like dozens of other US proxy wars around the world.

  2. Smart&Messy says:

    I so hope that this was a formality that was necessary to nevotiate the prisoner swap.
    An arms dealer and a murderer in exchange for someone who had less than a gram of cannabis oil on her? So insane.

    What doesn’t bode well is the fact that Whealan has been in their custody since like 2018? Has there been any negotiations going on for him, or they just remembered he exists because of Brittney’s case?

    From the get go, the US govt position was that Brittney’s case should be kept out of the news, because it is easier to negotiate her release if the case is not that high profile. Like they can offer some oligarch being exempt from sanctions or the release of a Ruasian criminal. But here is Whealan, out of the news and still sitting there after 4 years. So Cherelle Griner might be right to keep this issue front and center.

  3. Wiglet Watcher says:

    Russia is going to press and play games. They have nothing, but leverage and time on this.
    I’m in the cannabis industry now and there’s an uproar. People are upset so many citizens still serving sentences here for non violent possession. But there can’t be too much noise because going federal would polite the industry. People should be released that are not serving federal crimes in legal states.

  4. Lolo86lf says:

    I am surprised Russia has not asked the US to stop aiding Ukraine in exchange for Britney Griner’s freedom. Perhaps Russia will demand to remove Biden as president and replace him with Donald Trump in exchange for Brittney’s freedom. I should stop giving Putin ideas. Brittney already lost 6 months of her life in a Russian jail, poor girl.

    • Lizzie says:

      Well, the US already removed Ukrainian regime once, beside several dozen regimes it removed since the WWII. Its been giving ideas to the rest of the world for over half a century.

  5. Miranda says:

    I’m glad she has made friendly connections with other inmates and guards, which I hope will at least keep her morale up, but it’s no secret that Russia is quite racist and homophobic, so her situation is still very scary. We need to bring her home. Of course, Putin will make that difficult, if not impossible, because terrorist (which is exactly what he is) hostage-taking and similar criminal tactics are all that pathetic little tyrant has left.

    Also, I don’t expect them to be paid NBA money (though that would be nice), but female players need to at least be paid enough so that they don’t have to freelance in places like Russia in the off-season. Come on.

    • Wiglet Watcher says:

      All athletes do this. Russia and China are some of the biggest payers. It’s not about giving female athletes as much as male athletes. The male athletes still take foreign contracts. It’s considered very easy money for a short amount of time worked.

  6. Colby says:

    I’m really annoyed by this whole thing. Please be careful when you travel to obey the laws of the where you are. It’s so frustrating that a war criminal and a murderer will go free because of a vape pen.

    • detritus says:

      They aren’t going free because of a vape pen.

      They’d be going free because Russia is a dictatorship that hates women, drugs, queer people and will take any chance to piss off or politically out maneuver the US, UK or any allies.

      • Kirsten says:

        Those certainly are true things about Russia, but this situation wouldn’t exist if Griner had taken more care to follow the laws of the country she was entering, especially given the situation in Russia. She is in this position because of her own actions and she gave Putin an opportunity to take advantage of.

      • Colby says:

        You’re right about Russia 100%. And that’s exactly why BG should have been careful to not break their laws.

        We can agree that weed should be legal and Russia’s govt is awful. But she broke the law and gave them an opportunity.

      • Gigi lama says:

        Right so if we choose to go there, or even somewhere more pleasant like Singapore where drugs are a serious crime, we have to be aware of which vape pens, pills, snacks, medicine, creams, etc we can bring

      • Andreea with 2e says:

        Yes, you should be aware of the laws of the country you’re going to, why shouldn’t you?

      • Lizzie says:

        How many US war criminals, a country of democracy and freedom, are free? I think all of them. Also, the US jails its own citizens for years for marijuana possession, why is everybody in frenzy over Russia jailing a US citizen over the same?

    • Joanna says:

      It’s frustrating that someone got 9 years for a vape pen and the lack of sympathy for her situation. My boyfriend and I are the only people I know that I do not do anything. A vape pen is nothing. The reality is most people do something and a vape pen is very minor. It’s about as major to me as a speeding ticket. It’s frustrating that more people don’t have sympathy for her.

      • SAS says:

        Joanna I think most people feel very sorry for her. Talking about how Russia has taken advantage of her mistake is not an insult to her.

        The truth is, it’s no defense to say “it’s legal in my country and I don’t think it’s that serious” when you break an overseas law.

        I think sex toys are fine but I’m going to make sure I haven’t mistakenly packed one if I’m travelling to Dubai or chewing gum to Singapore etc.

      • Colby says:

        “It’s as major to me as a speeding ticket” that may be true but it doesn’t matter. What matters are the laws in Russia.

        By the way I am a cannabis user myself. But because I am aware that California’s laws dont apply everywhere, I make sure that I don’t bring it with me when I travel.

        To be clear, I do not agree with Russia’s laws re: cannabis in any way, shape, or form. I have enormous sympathy for her because I like you believe the punishment does not fit what I believe should not be a crime.

        But I also think that she made a catastrophically bad, and worse yet, avoidable decision that is ruining her life and allowing two psychopaths to go free.

      • Ashley L. says:

        Pointing out that this is a situation that she played a part in creating does not indicate lack of sympathy for her and her situation. You can feel terrible that this is happening to her and scared for her given the fact that she is a black gay woman imprisoned in an antagonistic country. You can also feel that having a very small amount of weed/cannabis oil is not worthy of such a harsh penalty. However, it still remains true that she should have been more careful. Its not victim blaming to say that. What is victim blaming is all of the white people who say she deserves this because she “disrespected” America when she refused to stand for the national anthem. You can have empathy for her and hope/pray/wish that she is able to come home and still acknowledge that she bears some responsibility.

      • Bunny says:

        I have a tremendous amount of sympathy for her. That said, I would never travel to any country and break their laws. It isn’t only a vape pen. One cannot break the law in Russia or anywhere else and say “But it was only…”. There is no “only”. Just their laws, their enforcement, their penalties.
        I sincerely want to see her come home, but trading her for a murderer is not fair, either.
        Everyone should do their utmost to follow the laws of wherever they visit. If they can’t, they should stay home.

      • Gigi lama says:

        My husband and I don’t do anything either. We stopped drinking (used to drink a bit every 1-2 months or so when he roasted lamb) for the last 4 months too and hopefully will continue to not drink. I’m guessing a lot of people in Russia and many other places like China don’t do anything but then in Russia and China drinking is very acceptable, encouraged even.

      • Lizzie says:

        How much effort and empathy do Americans including anyone on this website in a frenzy over this, put into discussions over the US jailing its own citizens for marijuana possessions, and NOT releasing them after it became legal? Many people serve sentences for offenses that are no longer that.
        So, why would Russia not jail a foreigner for breaking the law, and how is that different from when the US jails them? Id like some clarity on this, thanks.

    • AmelieOriginal says:

      I do think people need to be very careful when it comes to cannabis because in many places it is considered a recreational drug and not used for medicinal purposes. Even in the US, the attitudes towards cannabis/marijuana have only relaxed in the last few years and it depends on the state. I don’t think it’s victim blaming to say it was incredibly irresponsible of Brittany to have any kind of cannabis products on her in a foreign country, especially one as sketchy as Russia. However she doesn’t deserve to serve 10 years for her lack of common sense and Russia wouldn’t be doing this if they weren’t at war with Ukraine right now.

    • JanetDR says:

      Because it’s Putin’s Russia, I don’t necessarily believe everything they say. Maybe she did, maybe she didn’t. It wouldn’t be the first time the KGB planted something. I find the timing rather suspicious. The guilty plea and the apologies may have just been what she was told to do to facilitate her eventual release.

    • Roast says:

      THIS!!! I decided against sending my niece in Australia some CBD-infused shampoo and conditioner because I wasn’t 100% certain that it was legal. You need to be aware of the laws of other countries before you go. There are countries that allow the stoning to death of women… but that doesn’t fly in America, and we would enforce our laws in the face of someone breaking our laws. Yes, to Americans it’s just some THC, but we can’t expect other countries to fall in line with our current views.

  7. Snappyfish says:

    The exchange will happen. Viktor Bout is a v v big deal to Putin. Every SofState has been worried to death by Lavrov over the possible return of Bout. My guess is they are trying to get a 2/2 instead of just Bout for 2 but in the end they will do whatever they to get him back.

  8. Klapton says:

    Im very worried about all of this 😟

  9. Natalie says:

    It’s an incredibly frustrating and worrisome situation.

    Griner brought drugs into a country with a zero-tolerance jurisdiction and a strict drug policy. It is known.

    Yes, it is legal in her state in the US, but if you enter a foreign country, you have to abide by its laws, irrelevant of whether you deem them irrelevant or inhuman.
    If you disagree, don’t go. It is common knowledge to take extra caution traveling to countries that might pose a risk to your health, life, and freedom. Hell, I am from Europe and am extra cautious traveling to the US.

    Whether intentional or not, ignorance does not grant exceptions – that also applies to the US.

    We also cannot be surprised and blame it solely on Russia’s unlawful invasion of Ukraine and the attack on its sovereignty. Russia invaded the Krim in 2014, there have always been tensions with the West, and Russia’s alleged lack of human rights is no secret.

    As far as I read, the whole case of Griner is not out of the ordinary. The sentence and the procedure were expected by experts.

    And, more importantly: There are many other foreigners who are also being imprisoned by Russia for crimes they had no intention to commit, for honest mistakes, for what we consider minor issues.

    Griner was classified as wrongfully detained because she’s lucky enough to have a recognizable name and friends whose voices were heard in the White House.
    Of course, I want her to be free and healthy and safe at home. She’s a human being and it’s a nightmare she’s captured in.

    Chances are, it will happen.

    At the price for a dangerous arms dealer with international connections and internal knowledge, nicknamed the “Merchant of Death”, and not just a murderer currently detained in Germany, but a commander of a special unit of the Russian secret service. This also adds another layer of tension between the US and Germany, when a united front is more needed than ever.

    Those two men have destroyed many lives and they are a threat to many more people. People whose names we’ll never learn, whose faces we’ll never see…

    We can hope for Griner and remind ourselves that with the exchange, the US saves one, maybe two lives, and willfully forgets many others.

    • Duchess of Corolla says:

      Yes, sad to say that ignorance of the law isn’t an excuse. Having a medical marijuana card in your home state isn’t a license everywhere, and certainly not internationally. I have a card, and I am very careful to know what it allows and doesn’t.

      I am getting ready to travel to a country where marijuana is legal, but it would still be illegal for me to bring my own supply through customs. I don’t want to go to jail, hence I will leave my meds at home!

    • Colby says:

      All of this.

    • Wiglet Watcher says:

      Well said. No notes.
      Everyone needs needs to read and understand this comment.

    • Dillesca says:

      Very well-said Natalie.

      I’ll add that we also continue to imprison people in the US– disproportionately POC– for minor drug offenses like possession of marijuana. In addition to considering the national security ramifications of the proposed swap, White House should move to legalize cannabis and retroactively free people convicted of and incarcerated for cannabis-related crimes.

      • Wiglet Watcher says:

        You can’t legalize in the way you’re saying without making it federal. Worst idea ever. To poorly summarize though it would turn into big pharma. It would be too much to list all the most impactful ways this is a terrible idea.

        You can legalize it state by state and handle release from prison that way. Which is happening and must happen slowly so demands on housing, jobs, food etc can be managed.
        The only way federal crimes would become an issue is when you travel state to state with it.

      • Kirsten says:

        WW: That’s not the only impact of federal criminality. There are major issues with the way money can be handled in states and jurisdictions that have legalized recreational marijuana. Just one: dispensaries can only accept cash payment (or debit payments disguised as cash withdrawals) because otherwise CC payments could be confiscated federally. People can still also be federally prosecuted for use/sales in states where medicinal and recreational use is legal.

        The more states that legalize, the easier it will be for federal approval, but federal approval is still necessary.

  10. Lynne says:

    Echoing the comments of many, it is unfortunate that it is not legal and it was a small amount but that does not make a difference when the laws are zero tolerance for a banned substance.
    Know the laws of the country you are traveling to and follow them.

  11. Gigi lama says:

    why did she want to work in Russia with their anti gay stance? And why did they want a gay woman (obviously gay since she’s married) if that’s an issue there? Are there no other countries she could have chose? I know this has nothing to do with the crime but I’m curious

    • Wiglet Watcher says:

      Many athletes that do well in known and respected leagues get offered large sums of money to play in other countries. BG got offered bank to play for a short while in Russia. It’s Always suspicious when and unfriendly nation offers though. Any agent worth their salt would detail the risks to their client. In the end the client might only be motivated by what is considered easy money.

  12. Julia K says:

    She has claimed that she has travelled in and out of Russia several times and had the vape pen in her possession on each of these occasions. Only this last time was she detained. What happened that this time it all went wrong? Yes, I’ve read your comments on drug possession policy, It was allowed before but not now? Based on this I can see why she says there was no intent on her part and perhaps confusion as well. Perhaps someone knows the answer to this as I am not an experienced foreign traveller.

    • Wiglet Watcher says:

      I’m no expert, but this all feels politics motivated. Russia is on especially poor terms with the USA currently.
      I’m certain Russia always knows the citizens of other nations on their soil. Knows their exit flight data.
      She was picked to be a pawn imo.

      As far as before this… Trump was president. Putin’s puppet. Why would Putin/Russia want to detain an American Athlete when everything they wanted was being faxed over from the Oval Office?

  13. dawnchild says:

    Honestly, I wouldn’t travel to Russia in Putin times, period. Which makes me sad because I would have loved to visit.
    Now that I changed my citizenship to US, especially, it makes me think ten times before visiting certain spaces. I don’t put past the Russian folks in charge to plant an ounce/gram? of weed if they want to get another US citizen to bargain with. Not that I would get any headlines, unfortunately…lol! And I’ve never done anything with drugs so I’m fairly oblivious to begin with…

  14. jferber says:

    Absolute bullshit. Get her and other American hostages in Russia the hell OUT. Unbelievable that f-cking trump (who may very well have engineered the killing of his first wife) is once AGAIN on Russia’s side and wants no deal for her. Racism and misogyny are real and repugnant.

    • Julia K says:

      The cremation took place quickly. No chance now of an exhumation and 2nd opinion autopsy. We’ll never know.

    • Wiglet Watcher says:

      I think it’s fair for people to grapple with the dilemma here.
      Yes, she deserves to come home. Yes, this situation is horrible.

      First he will trade her for just a very deadly arms dealer in US custody. But now he also wants a murderer that is also a spy for Russia in German custody?

      2 people that have facilitated or taken who knows how many innocent lives to be freed. They will take more lives. To agree to their freedom… I can’t. It’ll be 2 more moves that tip the balance towards Putin for Ukrain.

  15. jferber says:

    Julia K, I didn’t know she was cremated. A tactic many murderers use to destroy evidence permanently. Did she even ask to be cremated and buried at his golf course? So f-cking shady. And his 3 kids/collaborators would not bat an eye at anything he did. Criminal family.

    • Hawaiiangymrat says:

      everyone keeps going on and on about the drug laws and other countries and I get it. what you do in the US may not be the same Liberties you have in England Ireland Germany China etc. however if your medically prescribed a heart pill and you take it everyday it would be a matter of habit to pack it with your stuff. if it’s something you have a legal prescription for everybody makes the stakes, Britney is not God and she’s a human being and it is possible despite having trouble their numerous times before she just forgot it because like any other medication she’s on she has a prescription for it, except her prescription medicine is an issue in that country. she’s not Superman she’s a human being like everybody else and everyone makes mistakes. but the funny part about it is everyone keeps going on and on about if I go other other countries I make sure not to violate their laws, understandable if it’s intentional but when it’s not give that crap a rest. the real issue here is one she’s one of a well-known celebrity female NBA players and when most of the players go overseas they make that country a lot of money, so the real part about this is so hypocritical on Russia’s part. the second part is she has a couple of things going on which are the real issues outside of Ukraine and outside of America and tensions between Putin’s Russia which is one she is a female, too she is an African-American known celebrity sports player who when’s her time playing in their country, but three she is also a lesbian married female. one of the major things that Russia has a Beyond low tolerance and a highly known prejudicial racial and bigotry towards is people who are gay or lesbian. on top of the fact there is US’s part with Ukraine and everything this is all political, what makes it worse for her whether people deem her sending everything apart not it makes it harder because she’s also an openly lesbian married sports figure.

      also outside of personal opinion, if you know anything of the WNBA versus the nba, you know the professional female basketball players don’t get paid s*** compared to the men in the NBA and that’s pure facts. where you have your players that make 1 million 2 million and higher contracts, some of the women NBA players make as high as $300,000. there is still the same pay discrepancy as it is in with professional female soccer teams and the male soccer teams. and that’s why a lot of athletes go during off season overseas were instead of making compared to their male counterparts that they’ve rival in technique and style, they make equal and even higher than what the NBA male players make during off season alone. and the way the Cycle Works is here during season of NBA and WNBA are male and female players are here you see them on the sports channels, during off season certain individuals choose to go overseas especially our female WNBA players to make equal the salary of what their male players play during on season. one of the things that I think would also help detour some of our players going overseas is the same pay discrepancy issue that the female US soccer team brought up against the males if they’re just as damn good as them they deserve equal pay not less because they’re females that’s what causes people to consider these type of ideas of going to these foreign countries and most of the time over 50% of them are the females who it’s notorious in the US are paid less than the males even when some of them are even more talented. I think if we start treating our female athletes with the same respect and pay opportunities as the male situations such as Britney’s or anyone else that may not be as well known as her would most likely die down a bit,because if you’re getting paid what you’re worth you don’t have a need to seek your compensation elsewhere. this isn’t as cut and dry as people saying oh when you go to other countries you shouldn’t forget to obey their laws it is way bigger than that and a lot of people need to be more open and Broad mind and see the whole picture instead of seeing the picture through tunnel and pigeonhole lenses when it’s a multitude of compacting factors that equal to the big problem that Britney’s in.

      • Wiglet Watcher says:

        It’s not a prescription. It’s barely regulated. And you never need it to live. You need it to maintain for some. You don’t even need a doctor or a nurse to issue your med card in a lot of states. And states that are rec will just sell it to you with a state ID.

        The medical part has lost it’s meaning because there is now recreational. Same stuff. Medical was just a way to ease it in to state laws.

        Also, many athletes take these jobs overseas. It’s not about needing the money all the time. Top male athletes do it all the time. They don’t need the money. It’s a practice that is considered easy money.

  16. Realitnow says:

    I am conflicted about this. The State Dept. issued a do not travel to Russia warning on Jan. 23. It read in part:

    “Do not travel to Russia due to ongoing tension along the border with Ukraine, the potential for harassment against U.S. citizens, the embassy’s limited ability to assist U.S. citizens in Russia, COVID-19 and related entry restrictions, terrorism, harassment by Russian government security officials, and the arbitrary enforcement of local law.”

    She was arrested Feb. 17th. I don’t want to hear “female athletes aren’t paid enough so they have to play overseas” stuff because I am a public school teacher scraping by on crap pay and I do something that actually matters. She went over there despite warnings AND took illegal substances in order to make $. She made over $600,000 in the WNBA and school teachers are lucky to break $60,000. You can’t break laws and expect special treatment in a foreign country. The US isn’t fighting this hard for any of the other people arrested around the world. The US is not letting out prisoners here at home who were arrested for marijuana crimes. I just don’t know about releasing the arms dealer just because she has some fame.

    • Kirsten says:

      Agree with all of this. I understand that female athletes make comparatively little in relation to their male counterparts, but if your regular salary is $300k, you do not NEED to take extra work to make ends meets — you WANT to take extra work to be even wealthier.

  17. jferber says:

    Another issue is that it may have been planted on her during a very politically fraught time. I know she “admitted” it in court, but that could have been a lawyer’s strategy on how she could best maneuver to get the hell out of there. If I were innocent and told my best course would be to lie to authorities, I think I’d do it. I’d be too desperate NOT to, especially if the counsel was from the American Embassy or other American lawyer (not at all sure from whom she got her legal advice). I have a lot of sympathy for her and others (not famous) locked up in that dictator’s hellish prisons. He is a madman and megalomaniac.