Brittney Griner, WNBA star and Phoenix Mercury center since 2013, faces drug trafficking charges after she was found with cannabis vape cartridges in her carry-on luggage at a Moscow airport in February, authorities say Russians.
She is being held by Russian authorities, USA TODAY learned on Saturday.
Russia’s Federal Customs Service announced on Saturday that a two-time Olympic basketball champion and member of the US national team was arrested for transporting canisters of cannabis-derived oil, which could carry a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison.
The player was identified as Griner by Russian state-run news agency TASS.
Laws on possession of cannabis products vary by state and country, which can affect what happens to someone traveling with one.
Here’s what you need to know about traveling with cannabis products:
In the United States, marijuana is still illegal at the federal level.
Although marijuana is legal for adults in some US states, including Arizona, under federal law it is still illegal, so transporting it across US borders is not advised. State.
THC is the main psychoactive substance in marijuana. CBD is a non-psychoactive component of cannabis that is often sold in other products such as lotions and supplements.
Some cannabis-infused products, including CBD oil, are federally illegal if they contain more than 0.3% THC on a dry weight basis.
It is unclear whether the cartridges Russian officials say Griner was carrying contained either CBD or THC.
the The Food and Drug Administration has only approved a cannabis-derived product, Epidiolex, which contains a purified form of CBD, the agency said in January 2021, and three synthetic cannabis-related drug products: Marinol (dronabinol), Syndros (dronabinol), and Cesamet (nabilone). These are only available on prescription from licensed healthcare providers.
The TSA is not looking for drugs.
Transportation Security Administration officers are required to report suspected violations of the law to local or federal authorities, but they do not look for illegal drugs during drug tests.
“TSA security agents do not search for marijuana or other illegal drugs, but if an illegal substance is found during security screening, the TSA will refer the matter to a law enforcement agent,” indicates the website.
The TSA said their dogs don’t sniff marijuana either. However, on a Instagram post they reiterated that if, during screening, a substance that appears to be marijuana or a cannabis product is discovered, law enforcement will be notified, even if it is used for medical purposes.
Traveling abroad with cannabis products
There are no specific guidelines for traveling with cannabis products abroad, but since federal laws apply to everyone, if a product is illegal in a country, traveling with it could have consequences.
For example, cannabis is legal for adults in Canada, but the government website for travel and tourism declares that it is illegal to transport these products across Canadian borders, regardless of the amount of cannabis and medical clearances.
“Cannabis is illegal in most countries. If you attempt to travel internationally with any amount of cannabis in your possession, you could face serious criminal penalties both at home and abroad,” the Canadian government website states.
Column:Will the Russians do the right thing and release Mercury Center Brittney Griner?
This applies even if the person is traveling to or from a place where cannabis has been decriminalized, according to the website. Consequences of traveling with cannabis products include denial of entry into a country.
“You could be refused entry to your destination country if you have ever used cannabis or any substance prohibited by local laws,” the website says. “You may also be denied entry to other countries in the future.”
Two women arrested in recent years on similar grounds in Russia
In Russia, marijuana is illegal for recreational and medical purposes.
An Israeli-American woman was arrested at a Moscow airport in April 2019 while traveling from India to Israel and nine grams of marijuana were found in her luggage, BBC News reported.
Naama Issachar, 26, was sentenced to more than seven years in prison for drug trafficking. The BBC reported that Russian President Vladimir Putin pardoned her in January 2020 ahead of a visit by Benjamin Netanyahu, the current Israeli prime minister, to Moscow.
A New York-based film student has been charged with drug possession in St. Petersburg for allegedly smuggling medical marijuana into the country, Moscow time reported in September 2019.
CBS News reported Audrey Lorber was arrested upon arriving in St. Petersburg for a vacation and authorities found approximately 19 grams of marijuana on her. She said the drug was for medical reasons and showed the prescription, but police said it was not valid in Russia, CBS reported.
Lorber spent more than a month in detention. A St. Petersburg court fined her 15,000 rubles or $230 after finding her guilty.
However, not everyone is convinced that Griner’s arrest is just one example of Russia’s enforcement of its drug laws among travellers. US Cannabis Council CEO Steven Hawkins said in a statement on Sunday that “cannabis possession, whether suspected or actual, is routinely used as a pretext by law enforcement around the world to target disadvantaged individuals and groups. .
“In this case, Russian authorities appear to be using alleged possession of cannabis as a pretext to detain a prominent American as leverage. Brittney Griner should not be used as a pawn by Russia. We urge the US government to use all channels available to secure it. quick return home.
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