Audrey Lorber, an American citizen and student at Pace University, was arrested on July 24 at Pulkovo Airport while traveling as a tourist.
Russian police said she about 19 grams of marijuana on her. Lorber has a U.S. permit for cannabis as part of a medical program, but that paperwork held no authority with the officials in St. Petersburg and she was taken into custody.
“The accused kept this drug with her for personal consumption,” said the press service of St. Petersburg court last week. “The patent held by the accused for using marijuana in the framework of a medical program, filed in the USA, does not apply to the territory of the Russian Federation.”
Nineteen grams is nearly 3/4 of an ounce.
Before her visit to Russia, Lorber had reportedly never been convicted of drug offenses or other crimes. It is expected she will receive only a fine and “conditional punishment” rather than continued imprisonment in a Russian jail.
Congressman Max Rose, who represents Staten Island, said on Saturday that he was trying to get Lorber back to the U.S.
“I’m working to help get Audrey home as soon as possible because no American citizen should be held in jail for a medical condition,” Rose said in a statement.
A website bearing Lorber’s name identifies her as an “aspiring filmmaker in New York City,” while a social media account under her name shows a young woman vacationing with who is believed to be her mother while in Europe.
Lorber has been a server at Waterside restaurant on Staten Island for a couple years.
“She’s a great kid, hard worker,” said Lorber’s boss and manager of the restaurant, Joseph Guli. “All the customers love her, she never missed work, friendly, always smiled, had a career ahead of her, still does hopefully,” he said.
Russian authorities say her criminal case has not yet been resolved.
(© Copyright 2019 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. Cable News Network, Inc., a Time Warner Company, contributed to this report.)