Sports communities across the nation campaign in support of WNBA star’s release
More support is needed to free WNBA All Star Brittney Griner, who is locked up in a Russian prison for a cannabis violation, reported the Daily Beast. She has been criminalized for possessing a cannabis substance when she was stopped by Russian airport security.
Griner recently pleaded guilty to the charges in Russia and had not been sentenced as of the June 26 story date.
The article said that it is time for LGBTQ+ advocacy organizations and cannabis criminal justice reform organizations, such as Last Prisoner Project, to band together in a unified front for the release, record-sealing and reentry of those like Griner.
Griner has a host of support from all spectrums of the field standing up and speaking out on her behalf, urging legislators to convince Russian authorities to release her. The NBA and other sports franchises have supported Griner too.
“Free Brittney Griner” campaigns have sprouted up all across the nation. GLSEN, Human Rights Campaign, and the National Black Justice Coalition condemned the acts against Griner by Russia as racist and homophobic and have released statements in support of Griner, said the article.
Russia has draconian laws against cannabis, but so does the U.S., which still has laws in place that criminalize marijuana offenses. Daily Beast reported that there were 350,000 arrests in the U.S. for marijuana law violations in 2021. The article points out that Griner could have been arrested and sentenced to jail time if she had been stopped in any of 19 states in America. Federal law also criminalizes marijuana.
The burden of cannabis criminalization lands disproportionately on the backs of people of color and the LGBTQ community, said the article. The 2019 National Survey on Drug Use and Health disclosed that “sexual minority” adults were at least twice as likely to have used marijuana within the past year as the general population at 43.6% and 17.9%, respectively, said the article.