Senators Rubio, Manchin, Casey & Six More Urge State Dept. To Classify Marc Fogel 'Wrongfully Detained' In Russia For Cannabis

A coalition of bipartisan senators is calling on the State Department to reclassify another U.S. citizen imprisoned in Russia for medical marijuana as “wrongfully detained.” 

The letter, led by Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA), argues that Marc Fogel who previously worked at the U.S. embassy in Moscow is facing a “disproportionate 14-year sentence” over possessing less than an ounce of cannabis.

Like Brittney Griner, Fogel is registered as a legal medical marijuana patient in Pennsylvania although a Moscow court convicted him of "large-scale" cannabis smuggling.

'Wrongfully Detained' Equals Special Diplomatic Resources

The senators, reported CNN, told Secretary of State Antony Blinken that Fogel meets several criteria to be considered a wrongfully detained person, which would entitle him to enhanced diplomatic resources to secure his release.

“We strongly urge the State Department to shift its strategy given the realities of Marc Fogel’s situation and act immediately to designate him as ‘wrongfully detained.’ Such a designation will provide the warranted level of support to Marc Fogel’s family after a year of communication with Mr. Fogel only via mail and, most importantly, will require the U.S. Special Presidential Envoy for Hostage Affairs to secure Mr. Fogel’s freedom. We cannot allow Mr. Fogel to be used as a political pawn by Vladimir Putin.”

Fogel had worked at the U.S. embassy in Moscow for nearly a decade as a history teacher at the Anglo-American School where the children of US diplomats were among his students. He was later employed as an English teacher at the Anglo-American School in Moscow at the time of his arrest in August 2021. 

“Mr. Fogel’s recent 14-year sentence to a maximum-security penal colony for possession of less than an ounce of medical marijuana can only be understood as a political ploy by Vladimir Putin’s authoritarian regime,” wrote the senators. 

They questioned why the State Department is negotiating the release of Griner over a similar, low-level cannabis offense while Fogel’s case is not receiving the same degree of political attention and diplomatic intervention.

“Mr. Fogel, a 61-year-old with severe medical conditions, has already been detained for a year. The United States cannot stand by as Mr. Fogel wastes away in a Russian hard labor camp.”

The letter was signed by nine senators, including a few that have previously taken hostile positions on cannabis reform.

Sens. Marco Rubio (R-FL), Jon Tester (D-MT), Steve Daines (R-MT), John Hickenlooper (D-CO), Pat Toomey (R-PA), Joe Manchin (D-WV), Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) and Tim Kaine (D-VA) joined Casey on the letter.

Photo: YouTube

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Posted In: CannabisNewsPoliticsMarketsGeneralBrittney GrinerMarc FogelRussiaUS Senators
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