Local legal experts weigh in on Brittney Griner sentencing
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) - The pressure to bring U.S. Basketball star Brittney Griner home from Russia is growing, after she was sentenced to nine years in prison Thursday on drug smuggling charges.
The countries are now discussing a potential prisoner exchange.
It all started back in February, when Griner was caught with less than a gram of Cannabis Oil in her luggage when she arrived in Russia.
Local lawyers, Elizabeth Ricci and Flor Diaz Wayt, said that if Griner’s case played out in the U.S., it’s likely her punishment could have been a drug program, fine, or community service.
Ricci said Griner’s sentence also shows that everyone should know the rules of the country before they travel there, even if they have a prescription for marijuana.
“This is not Advil or Tylenol, you should know what you are getting into because its a well-known topic and potentially dangerous for imprisonment or politics,” Ricci said.
Defense Attorney and the President of Tallahassee Chapter of Florida Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, Flor Diaz-Wayt, said domestic travelers should be careful because Cannabis Oil is legal in Florida, but illegal federally, which means under all air space.
Diaz-Wayt said that Griner’s punishment would have been less severe in the U.S. because law enforcement would be more understanding because the drug was prescribed to her by a doctor.
“Especially in Florida where there is medicinal use of marijuana, even if you were coming from or arriving in a place where it’s not legal yet, that would be part of the consideration and certainly not drug trafficking,” Diaz-Wayt said. “The amount she had was so small. It would have to be boxes and boxes of product to be drug trafficking.”
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