Brittney Griner's legal team has argued cannabis' use for medicinal purposes is legitimate in other nations ©Getty Images

The legal team of detained American women's basketball star Brittney Griner has argued that cannabis, which led to the arrest of the double Olympic champion in Russia, has legitimate medical use in other nations.

Griner could face a sentence of up to 10 years for drug smuggling, related to bringing a vape with cannabis oil into the country, on her way to competing in the Russian basketball league during the Women's National Basketball Association (WNBA) off-season.

Her ongoing trial focused on the legality of cannabis, which Griner has admitted to carrying in oil form in vape cannisters into Sheremetyevo Airport in Moscow.

She says the canisters ended up in her suitcase inadvertently because she was packing in a rush, while her team has contended that it was common to use cannabis medicinally throughout the world.

"We are not arguing that Brittney took it here as a medicine," said Alexander Boykov, defence attorney.

"We are still saying that she involuntarily brought it here because she was in a rush.

Brittney Griner's trial only started earlier this month ©Getty Images
Brittney Griner's trial only started earlier this month ©Getty Images

"The Russian public has to know, and the Russian court in the first place has to know, that it was not used for recreational purposes in the United States. 

"It was prescribed by a doctor."

Griner usually plays for Phoenix Mercury in the WNBA, but had been travelling to play with Russian side UMMC Ekaterinburg before her arrest.

She has been in custody since February 17, a week before Ukraine was invaded by Russia.

There have been calls for United States President Joe Biden to negotiate her release.