Brittney Griner blames leaving cannabis oil cartridges in luggage before Russia arrest on 'mental lapse'

Brittney Griner was arrested at a Russian airport in 2022, when it was discovered she had cartridges containing cannabis oil in her luggage as she returned to the country to play basketball.

Griner blamed a “mental lapse” for having the cartridges in her luggage and flying to a country where marijuana and medical cannabis are still against the law. She was imprisoned from February to December before she was a part of a prisoner swap for arms dealer Viktor Bout.


Bout and Griner in photos

This combo of images shows Viktor Bout, left, a suspected Russian arms dealer at the criminal court in Bangkok, on Aug. 20, 2010 and WNBA star and two-time Olympic gold medalist Brittney Griner in a courtroom prior to a hearing, in Khimki, outside of Moscow, on July 27, 2022. (AP Photo/Apichart Weerawong, left, and Alexander Zemlianichenko, File)

The WNBA star talked to Robin Roberts about her detention on ABC’s “Good Morning America.” A snippet of the interview aired Monday, with the full segment being released Wednesday. Roberts asked Griner what she had to say to the skeptics who could not believe she had simply forgotten she had the cartridges on her.

I would say, ‘Have you ever forgot your keys in your car, left your car running? Have you ever (asked) where’s my glasses, and they’re on top of your head? Where’s my phone? Oh, it’s in my pocket.’ It’s just so easy to have a mental lapse,” the Phoenix Mercury center said.

“Granted, my mental lapse was more on a grand scale, but it doesn’t take away from how that could happen.”


Baylor retires Brittney Griner's number

Former Baylor Bears player Brittney Griner, right, and Baylor Bears head coach Nicki Collen react during a ceremony to retire Griner’s jersey before the game between the Baylor Bears and the Texas Tech Red Raiders at Foster Pavilion on Feb. 18, 2024 in Waco, Texas. (Ron Jenkins/Getty Images)

Roberts also asked what was going through Griner’s head as she was being searched.

“Just everything that I’m not gonna see. I’m thinking about my wife,” she said. Thinking about what my family is gonna think, public opinion is gonna think. I can just see the headlines now, like I could just visualize everything I worked so hard for just crumbling and going away.

“And to be somewhere where there’s no understanding. In the U.S., I can articulate what happened, how this happened. I didn’t plan to do this. This was a mistake. It was an accident. I understand accidents have repercussions, but there’s nothing. There’s none of that.”

Brittney Griner at the NCAA Final Four

Brittney Griner looks on in the second half during the NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament Final Four semifinal game between the UConn Huskies and the Iowa Hawkeyes at Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse on April 5, 2024 in Cleveland. (Steph Chambers/Getty Images)


Griner returned to the Mercury last season. She was an All-Star for the eighth time in her career.

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