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Staten Island woman arrested in Russia for allegedly bringing marijuana into the country

CNN logo CNN 9/10/2019 By Jennifer Hansler, Sarya Tarasova and Jason Hanna, CNN
a person with collar shirt © From Instagram

A New York woman has been arrested in Russia on suspicion of possessing marijuana that she said was for medicinal purposes, Russian courts told CNN on Tuesday.

Audrey Eliza Lorber was arrested on charges of transporting cannabis into Russia from the United States, after marijuana weighing about 19 grams was found during a search of her possessions at St. Petersburg's Pulkovo Airport, courts press service representative Darya Lebedeva told CNN.

Nineteen grams is nearly 3/4 of an ounce.

Lorber had a US permit to use marijuana as part of a medical program, but the permit doesn't apply in Russian territory, Lebedeva said.

A criminal prosecution has not started, Lebedeva said.

It wasn't immediately clear when the arrest happened, or what medical condition Lorber has.

US Rep. Max Rose, who represents Staten Island, where Lorber lives, tweeted on Saturday that he was trying to help Lorber come home.

"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," the statement said.

The US State Department told CNN it was aware of reports that a US citizen was arrested in St. Petersburg.

"We take seriously our responsibility to assist US citizens abroad. Due to privacy considerations, we have no further comment," a State Department official said in a statement to CNN.

It wasn't clear whether Lorber has obtained a lawyer. Lorber's mother declined to comment and asked for privacy when reached by CNN.

Lorber is a third-year film and screen studies major at the honors college of Pace University, according to a spokesperson at the university. A resume on LinkedIn says she is a screenwriter, YouTube personality and film editor.

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.

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