Brittney Griner’s detainment in Russia in February of this year was a shocking moment for many of her fans. One of the best female athletes on the planet being arrested for plant extracts in Russia, the same month Putin launched a murderous invasion in Ukraine.
Griner has just lost an appeal of her 9-year sentence, one year short of the maximum. Thankfully she does still retain the ability to appeal to a higher court, however, she is a political prisoner now, as she can be used as a bargaining chip in the aforementioned war ongoing in Ukraine.
Many in the US government have called for her release, this is of course a very good thing, with US President Biden calling the sentence “unacceptable”. Even former cop, and current Vice President, Kamala Harris has spoken out against the “wrongful detention” of the WNBA star.
With today’s sentencing, Russia continues its wrongful detention of Brittney Griner. She should be released immediately. @POTUS and I, and our entire Administration, are working every day to reunite Brittney, as well as Paul Whelan, with loved ones who miss each of them dearly.
— Vice President Kamala Harris (@VP) August 4, 2022
Though these words ring a bit hollow being that both of these people have fought for most of their careers to keep harsh sentencing in place for low level drug offenders, just like Griner. Though to be fair, Joe Biden did take an unprecedented step in pardoning all those convicted on simple cannabis charges earlier this month.
While this step is overall a very weak one, in my opinion, it is still meaningful and has positively affected impact thousands of American with prior convictions. It also opens the door to decriminalization or even perhaps legalization in the future, rescheduling is also something Biden has hinted at pushing his Attorney General Merrick Garland to look at.
While this is still somewhat weak in my book, it is progress and does lend slightly more credence to calls from the American President to free Griner. At the same time, the current administration must go much further.
In order for these calls for freedom for Griner to hold real weight, the Biden administration must at the very least decriminalize cannabis. If Biden truly wants to be based, and make a powerful case for US voters to pull the lever for the Democrats in the upcoming midterm elections, he should push for total legalization.
While this seems unlikely, any move in that direction will be a positive step, and give the US more legitimacy when calling for the release of Griner. With tens of thousands of Americans currently in jail for cannabis it seems an easy way to get rid of the clear double standard, and simply do the right thing. (It would also make progress towards the issue with there not being enough workers, something capitalists love to complain about.)
In the end, it is simply ridiculous to put people in concrete cages for mildly augmenting their minds with the flowers of a plant. Russia must release Griner. Likewise, the US should take the lead in this respect and push to end the imprisonment of people for pot. While it is already laughably late, we must remember: Better late than never, but never late is better.