Cannabis activists ‘smoke out’ Russian embassy over Brittney Griner’s ‘unacceptable’ prison sentence

Brittney Griner smoke out protest

A group of cannabis activists have held a “smoke out” outside the Russian Embassy in Washington – featuring a 51-foot inflatable joint – in support of WNBA star Brittney Griner’s imprisonment in Russia.

Griner is facing nine years in a Russian prison for possession of cannabis oil.

Adam Eidinger, who is the co-founder of DC Marijuana Justice, hosted the smoke out demonstration with his group and Griner’s supporters on Saturday (26 October), following the “very disappointing” verdict that Griner had lost her appeal.

“Just as it’s unacceptable for Americans to sit behind bars for simple possession of cannabis, it’s absolutely unacceptable for an American sitting in a Russian gulag,” Eidinger told The Washington Post. 

Kicking off at 4.20pm local time outside the Russian Embassy the group told demonstrators: “If you have used vape cartridges, bring them!”

Protestors smoked marijuana and also carried a huge inflatable joint with “free 420 prisoners” written on one side, and “free Brittney Griner and the Russians from Putin” on the other. 

In October 2022, President Joe Biden pardoned thousands of US prisoners in jail in the US convicted on marijuana possession.

Cannabis Advocates Stage Protest Outside Russian Embassy Demanding Release Of Basketball Star Brittney Griner

A Russian appeals court upheld a nine-year prison sentence imposed on Griner on 25 October. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Following Griner’s appeal being denied she is expected to be moved from her current detention centre to a penal colony.

A penal colony is a prison that is separated from the general population and usually in a remote location.

Griner’s attorneys will discuss next steps with her, and said they will use “all the available legal tools, especially given the harsh and unprecedented nature of her verdict”.

Griner’s arrest

The two-time Olympic gold medalist was arrested in February after Russian authorities said they found vape cartridges containing cannabis oil in her luggage. 

In July, Griner pleaded guilty but said it was an accident and stressed that she had no criminal intent. 

On 4 August, Griner was sentenced to nine years in prison and given a fine of one million rubles ($16,200).