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Staten Island college student detained in Russia over pot possession; lawmaker rails at jail ‘for a medical condition’

2019-09-09

A Pace University film student from Staten Island is being held in Russia on drug charges — busted at an airport in St. Petersburg with about two-thirds of an ounce of medicinal marijuana.

Audrey Lorber was accused of carrying 19.05 grams of cannabis — about enough to roll 40 joints — after she was searched at Pulkovo Airport, The Moscow Times reported last week. The date of the arrest wasn’t disclosed. Drug possession carries up to three years in prison in Russia.

According to a St. Petersburg court statement, Lorber’s weed was for medicinal purposes but that the “patent for marijuana use in a medical program issued in the United States that the accused carried with her does not apply to the territory of the Russian Federation,” NBCnews.com reported.

Rep. Max Rose (D-Staten Island, Brooklyn) said he’s trying to get her released.

“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," he said.

In an Instagram post from July 22, the young woman is pictured with her mother, Rochelle, in St. Petersburg, in what may have been the last photo taken before she was detained.

“We are aware of the reports of a U.S. citizen was arrested in St. Petersburg, Russia,” the U.S. State Department said in a statement Monday, NBC News reported. “We take seriously our responsibility to assist U.S. citizens abroad. Due to privacy considerations, we have no further comment."

Lorber attended Tottenville High Schoolwhere she was a cheerleader, according to her Facebook page. She describes herself as a digital artist and filmmaker on her linkedin page, and is majoring in Film and Screen Studies and English at Pace. Before that she worked as a server in several city restaurants.

The English-language Moscow Times reported Lorber’s case follows that of an American-Israeli citizen who was charged in Moscow with drug smuggling, which carries a maximum jail sentence of up to 10 years. Naama Issachar, 25, was nabbed ahead of her connecting flight from India to Israel in April.