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U.S. Student Held in Russian Jail For a Month Over Medical Marijuana Possession

Russia Arrests U.S. Citizen Over Medical Marijuana Imprisoned One Month Kresty Prison
Kresty Prison in St. Petersburg, Russia / PHOTO Konstantin Malanchev

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U.S. Student Held in Russian Jail For a Month Over Medical Marijuana Possession

An American college student is currently locked in a 300-year-old Russian jail after attempting to exit the country with U.S.-bought medical marijuana she brought for the trip.

U.S. citizen Audrey Eliza Lorber, 19, has been held in a St. Petersburg jail for over a month — and all because she allegedly tried to leave Russia with about 19 grams of cannabis that she received through a stateside medical program.

This is according to various reports coming out of the Russian Federation in the last 48 hours. On Monday, Sept. 2, the Joint Press Service of the courts of St. Petersburg announced that the Moscow District Court of St. Petersburg registered a criminal case against Lorber. She is accused of committing a crime under Part 1 of Article 228 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation.

That section of the law dealing with Lorber’s possible punishment for personal cannabis use indicates she could be hit with a fine of up to 40,000 roubles, about $600 U.S. dollars. Other possibilities include a compulsory work for a term of up to 480 hours, corrective labor for a term of up to two years, or “by restriction of liberty for a term of up to three years,” which sounds like a prison sentence.

Lorber is a film student based in New York City, with a YouTube channel that has amassed over 22,000 followers. According to her website, Lorber was born and raised in Staten Island, New York. She started her YouTube channel right before she entered high school and has carried it over to Pace University in Manhattan, where she should be starting her sophomore year as a film major. Instead, she’s in a Russian prison.

“According to the investigation, Lorber acquired cannabis weighing 19.05 g in the United States at an unspecified time,” the Joint Press Service announced on Telegram. “The accused kept this drug with her for personal consumption. Cannabis was discovered in her things during the search in Pulkovo [Airport]. The [recommendation] held by the accused for the use of marijuana as part of a medical program, filed in the United States, does not apply to the territory of the Russian Federation. Lorber pleaded guilty.”

CrimeRussia noted that the search seemingly happened when Lorber was on her way home from the trip to Russia. The site also expects Lorber to get off with a fine, but she’s already been in St. Petersburg’s Kresty Prison for a month.

Kresty Prison is just a decade away from being 300 years old. It has been a staple of Russian history, hosting everyone from the last ministers of Czars to the victims of Stalin’s purges who were stuffed into isolation cells with 15 others in a space designed for one. It doesn’t make a lot of sense why a 19-year-old with a little bit of marijuana would be forced to endure the same conditions as some of the greatest enemies of the Russian, Soviet, then Russian-again state.

The Moscow Times noted in 2018, over 100,000 people went to jail in Russia under the same Article 228 of the criminal code that Lorber is being charged under. Activists in Russia say Article 228 is also used as a tool to go after people on the fringe of Russian society, such as people in the LGBTQ community or journalists working to oppose government corruption.

One young gay man told the Moscow Times the tale of police luring him to an encounter via Tinder, telling him to bring weed. When he got there, two police greeted him and began searching him. He was faced with the opportunity to pay a bribe or have his life ruined.

“They told me they would charge me with possession of 7 grams of marijuana and open a criminal case against me, even though I had much less on me,” he said. “It would have been the end of my university career and possibly my future.”

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5 Comments

5 Comments

  1. Bob

    September 18, 2019 at 1:03 am

    This article is bogus. Kresty Prison has been closed for quite some time. She was porbably put in a holding cell. Leaving Polkova, you are not searched, just bags scanned.

  2. Cyndy

    September 10, 2019 at 1:14 pm

    I am not sure why it seems odd. With the crooks in DC doing everything they can to start a war with Russia, they are wise to search everything and everyone boarding flights for the US. The real question is what was she really doing in Russia ?? Whatever it is, I resent US tax dollars being used to bail her out. It is amazing how the same treasonous politicians that refuse to legalize weed here are defending her right to take weed into a sovereign foreign country to treat her “medical issues” Just like the same treasonous politicians that fight against every labor union for working Americans, but fully support corrupt law enforcement , paid with tax dollars, trained by a foriegn military, having unions. Americans are propagandized from cradle to grave and continue to trust a government full of politicians that hand billion dollar no BID CONTRACTS to defense contractors that they are personally invested in. US troops are nothing more then cannon fodder to increase their personal wealth.
    How many Americans still believe Russia attacked Ukraine ?? How many governments has the USG overthrown and installed dictators since WW2 ?
    As for the gay idiot in Russia claiming he was set up. Please, anyone that takes weed to meet a hookup from on line, is too stupid to not be in jail. This has nothing to do with Russia or being gay. The law in Russia that is consider anti gay is not about being gay. It is about teaching children about gay sex. Personally, i do not want gay or straight people teaching my children about their sex lives at all. Unfortunately, Americans or the USG learned anything from the mistakes of the Soviet Union. I am sorry about the ranting, but I know what it is like to watch my family come home in body bags from wars based on lies.

  3. Jeff

    September 10, 2019 at 7:47 am

    You can’t be taking drugs even prescription into other countries. You will land in prison in the a lot of countries for even taking Ambien into their country period. Singapore, Middle east do NOT mess around. I always check before traveling. ALWAYS. This is a dumb girl I bet knew the ricks and said it will never happen to me. Needs to spend some time in jail.

  4. Richard B.

    September 9, 2019 at 12:10 pm

    She deserves whatever she gets. She broke international law as well as Russian federation laws. While yes several states have made it legal in some cases, it’s still a federal crime and even taking marijuana across state lines is considered trafficking. I never take my medical marijuana with me out of state, I make other arrangements or I take my oral/topical THC products.

  5. Maxcatski

    September 4, 2019 at 10:40 am

    You need to be aware of your destination and the likely repercussions. For example, I flew to Jamaica with cannabis. The immigration guy sang us a little reggae tune as he welcomed us into Jamaica, mon. No issue.

    Not Russia, though. And what did Audrey say or do to warrant a search on EXITING the country? What really happened? It all seems odd to me.

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