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Russian news agencies reported that lawyers for American basketball star Brittney Griner have filed an appeal of her nine-year Russian prison sentence for drug possession. The case has been denounced by the United States and could lead to a high-profile prisoner swap. Griner is an eight-time all-star center with the WNBA’s Phoenix Mercury and two-time Olympic gold medalist. She was convicted Aug. 4 after police said they found vape canisters containing cannabis oil in her luggage at a Moscow airport. Griner admitted that she had the canisters in her luggage, but said she had inadvertently packed them in haste and that she had no criminal intent.

The Mississippi Department of Public Safety says its internal investigation has found no criminal conduct by a white Highway Patrol trooper who used physical force against a handcuffed Black man during an arrest. The confrontation was caught on video by relatives of the man being arrested. Investigators said Friday that they have completed inquiries into the Aug. 5 encounter near McComb. The investigation started after a viral video showed the trooper putting a handcuffed man into a chokehold and wrestling him into a ditch. Mississippi Department of Public Safety Commissioner Sean Tindell says the event shows how even a routine traffic stop can quickly turn into a dangerous situation for both citizens and law enforcement officers.

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Missouri voters are set to decide whether to allow recreational marijuana use in the state. The secretary of state's office on Tuesday announced the campaign received enough voter signatures to go on the November ballot. Missouri already allows medical marijuana use. Efforts to legalize recreational marijuana have failed to pass in the Republican-led Legislature, so advocates are turning to voters for approval. Recreational marijuana is already legal in 19 states, and legalization proposals are on the ballot this fall in South Dakota and Maryland. Another Missouri proposal that would allow ranked-choice voting failed to make it on the ballot.

Supporters of a recreational marijuana initiative are asking the Arkansas Supreme Court to order election officials to put the measure on the November ballot. Responsible Growth Arkansas asked the court on Thursday to reverse the State Board of Election Commissioners' rejection of their proposed constitutional amendment. The group needed the panel's certification to put the proposal on the ballot and said the group's refusal violated the Arkansas constitution. The lawsuit also challenges a 2019 law granting the board authority to certify ballot measures. Arkansas voters in 2016 approved an amendment legalizing medical marijuana.

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A judge in Russia convicted American basketball star Brittney Griner of drug possession and smuggling. She was sentenced to nine years in prison in a politically charged case that could lead to a high-stakes prisoner exchange between Washington and Moscow. Griner showed little emotion to the sentence but her lawyers said later she was "very upset, very stressed." U.S. President Joe Biden denounced as "unacceptable" the verdict and sentence, which came amid soaring tensions between the U.S. and Russia over Ukraine. Griner had told the court she had no intention to break the law by bringing vape cartridges with cannabis oil when she flew to Moscow to play basketball in the city of Yekaterinburg.

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Former NBA player Iman Shumpert was arrested at the Dallas Fort Worth International Airport last weekend for allegedly trying to bring six ounces of cannabis through security. The police report from the Dallas-Fort Worth Department of Public Safety shows police were called to a TSA checkpoint at about 3:40 p.m. on July 30.  The police report says Shumpert told officers the bag contained marijuana and “asked if there was any way he could make his flight” to Los Angeles. Shumpert was told no and charged with felony possession of marijuana. The police report said it was an amount more than four ounces but less than five pounds.

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An Arkansas panel has blocked a recreational marijuana proposal from appearing on the ballot this fall. The State Board of Election Commissioners on Wednesday rejected the popular name and ballot title for the proposed constitutional amendment that supporters hope to put on the November ballot. Supporters had turned in more than enough signatures to qualify, but the proposal still needed the panel's approval. Commissioners complained that the proposal didn't spell out the impact of the amendment. Supporters of the measure said they will appeal to the state Supreme Court. Arkansas voters legalized medical marijuana in 2016.

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A Utah man has been arrested on accusations he started a wildfire while trying to burn a spider with his lighter. A probable cause statement says 26-year-old Cory Allan Martin told deputies that he spotted the spider Monday while he was in a hiking area in the foothills south of Salt Lake City near the city of Springville. Martin was arrested on suspicion of reckless burn and possession of marijuana and drug paraphernalia. He was in jail Tuesday on nearly $2,000 bail. It was unknown if he had an attorney. The wildfire has burned less than 1 square mile.

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American basketball star Brittney Griner is back in court for her trial for cannabis possession amid U.S. diplomatic efforts to secure her release. The WNBA star and two-time Olympic gold medalist returned to court on Tuesday, a month after her trial began. She could face 10 years in prison if convicted. As her trial has progressed, the Biden administration has faced growing public pressure to get her released. In an extraordinary move, Secretary of State Antony Blinken last week spoke to his Russian counterpart, Sergey Lavrov, urging him to accept a deal under which Griner and Paul Whelan, an American imprisoned in Russia on an espionage conviction, would go free.

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Russia's top diplomat says he’s open to a call with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken to discuss a possible prisoner swap involving American basketball star Brittney Griner. Blinken said this week that Washington had offered Russia a deal that would bring home Griner and another jailed American, Paul Whelan. Speaking Friday on a visit to Uzbekistan, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said his ministry had received an official U.S. request for a call. He said he would be ready once he returns to Moscow and the timing of the call was being worked out. Griner has been detained in Russia since mid-February, when baggage inspectors found vape cartridges with cannabis oil in her luggage.

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The Kremlin has warned that a possible prisoner swap with the United States involving American basketball star Brittney Griner needs to be negotiated quietly without fanfare. U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Wednesday that Washington had offered Russia a deal that would bring home Griner and another jailed American, Paul Whelan. Asked Thursday about the U.S. offer, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov replied that prisoner swaps are typically negotiated discreetly behind the scenes. He emphasized that “no agreements have been finalized” and refused to provide further details. Griner has been detained in Russia since inspectors at a Moscow airport found vape cartridges containing cannabis oil in her luggage.

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WNBA star Brittney Griner testified at her drug possession trial in Russia  that an interpreter translated only a fraction of what was said during questioning when she was detained at Moscow’s airport in February and officials told her to sign documents without giving an explanation. The testimony by Griner came on the same day that U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Washington has offered a deal to Russia aimed at bringing home the WNBA star and another jailed American, Paul Whelan. Griner has been detained since mid-February after police said they found vape cartridges containing cannabis oil in her luggage. She has pleaded guilty to the charges.

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The latest Russian court hearing in the drug trial of American basketball star Brittney Griner has focused on testimony about countries that regard cannabis as having legitimate medicinal uses. Griner has acknowledged she was carrying vape canisters containing cannabis oil when she was arrested in February at a Moscow airport. But she contends she had no criminal intent and that the canisters ended up in her luggage inadvertently because of hasty packing. Griner, a two-time Olympic gold medalist who plays for the WNBA’s Phoenix Mercury, faces up to 10 years in prison if convicted of transporting drugs. Griner’s trial began July 1. Tuesday’s session lasted about 90 minutes before the case was adjourned until Wednesday.

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Vish Burra, the spokesperson for Carl P. Paladino's congressional campaign, was convicted of drug possession in 2014, The Buffalo News has learned. He is the second Paladino campaign associate in nine days revealed to have had a criminal record before joining the campaign for the 23rd Congressional District seat.

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The spokesperson for Russia’s Foreign Ministry says the United States has shown disrespect for Russian law by characterizing basketball star Brittney Griner’s jailing on drug charges as “wrongful detention.” Griner has been jailed since she was arrested in mid-February at a Moscow airport after vape canisters containing cannabis oil were found in her luggage. The Phoenix Mercury standout and two-time Olympic gold medalist acknowledged in court this month that she had the canisters, but said she had no intent to break the law. Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said Thursday that the legalization of cannabis for medical and recreational use in parts of the U.S. has no bearing on what happens in Russia.

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