The Woodrow Wilson Memorial Bridge, which crosses the Potomac River, serves as the tripoint for the Virginia, Maryland, and Washington, D.C. borders, allowing drivers pass through each jurisdiction within a few seconds of each other.
For some this is a novelty; for others, including those who have marijuana on them, this could change the course of their entire lives.
That’s because each jurisdiction has wildly different marijuana laws.
- Those pulled over for speeding with an ounce of marijuana in their car on the Virginia section of the bridge could face trafficking charges, a felony that comes with a prison sentence of up to ten years.
- That same driver pulled over on the Maryland section could be charged with a misdemeanor, which comes with prison time of up to a year.
- And those pulled over on the D.C. section would be free to go because marijuana is legal in the District.
In the new Learn Liberty video below, Professor Alex Kreit explains how the different treatment of marijuana in different jurisdictions means that a few inches can make a massive difference in a pot smoker’s life.
Similar major legal differences exist in other areas as well. For example, gun laws, taxes, and regulations vary significantly from state to state. In theory, people can vote with their feet, moving to the jurisdiction whose laws they like best.
In reality, though, such moves usually come with tradeoffs that involve sacrificing economic liberty for more personal liberty or vice-versa.