Imprisoned WNBA Player Brittany Griner Is Freed from Russia

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Brittany Griner had been arrested in Moscow, Russia and sentenced to prison for cannabis possession, which is illegal in Russia.

On December 8th, 2022, American Women's National Basketball Association (WNBA) player Brittney Griner was freed from prison in Russia and is back in the United States (1). Griner, a Baylor University All-American and Phoenix Mercury professional basketball player, has played for the Russian team UMMC Ekaterinburg for the past several years during the offseason (2).

In February 2022, Griner was arrested at an airport in Moscow, Russia for possessing cannabis vape cannisters in her luggage (1). She was sentenced in August to nine years in a Russian prison, and her release was part of a prisoner exchange with Russia (1).


"I think this situation illustrates the degree to which cannabis policies and their enforcement are now largely a function of geography—both in the United States and abroad," said Paul Armentano, Deputy Director of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML), in an interview with Newsweek (3).

"Whether the cannabis plant and those who consume it are either embraced or whether they are criminally targeted is a reflection of geographic boundaries," Armentano said (3). "Even in the United States, certain cannabis-related behaviors—such as the commercial cultivation and sale of cannabis—are legalized and applauded in some states while those same activities in another state can yield years or even life in prison."