An American student charged with drug possession after bringing medical marijuana into St. Petersburg has been fined 15,000 rubles ($230) by a Russian court.
Audrey Eliza Lorber created a potential diplomatic incident when she was found to be in possession of 19.05 g of cannabis during searches at Pulkovo Airport. The New York-based film student was placed in pre-trial custody in late August, and she pleaded guilty to possession on Sept. 3.
The Court Service of St. Petersburg said that she obtained the cannabis through a medical marijuana program in the U.S., but that it does not apply to the territory of the Russian Federation. It has now announced that she has been convicted of a crime under Part 1 of Article 228 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation and fined 15,000 rubles.
However, given the period of detention awaiting trial, Lorber does not have to serve a prison sentence and she has now been released from custody. Rep. Max Rose, who represents Staten Island, where Lorber lives, had previously said he was working hard to get her home.
Cannabis is illegal for medical and recreational purposes in Russia. Possession of up to 6g is considered to be an administrative offense, punishable by a fine or detention of 15 days. Possession of larger amounts is a criminal offense, and Lorber fell into the criminal category with 19.05g.
She is not the only American citizen to be detained in Russia over cannabis offenses. Naama Issachar, 25, an American-Israeli soldier, was detained earlier this year after being stopped by police while boarding a connecting flight to Tel Aviv in Moscow.
Russian authorities reported finding 9.2 g of cannabis in her checked baggage and she was charged with possession.
That was later upgraded to a charge of smuggling, which can lead to jail time of three to five years. She has been detained ever since.
Issachar, who went to high school in New Jersey, claims to have no knowledge of how the cannabis found its way into her bag, and a petition with more than 5,000 signatures argues “she was probably framed”. It is calling on President Trump to intervene and asking Vladimir Putin to release her.