15 Things That Should Be Illegal (But Somehow…Aren’t?)


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In 1979, the late Bon Scott of AC/DC sang, “It’s criminal, there ought to be a law.” When we look at the world around us, we see many things that we assume are criminal because they seem like either apparent dangers to life and limb or schemes designed to separate the gullible from their money.

 Upon close inspection, many of these things are legal or not yet illegal. Here are 15 things that are legal in some or all of the United States but might make you scratch your head at how that could possibly be. Please read the list and derive pleasure from it, but we implore you with as much urgency as possible not to try most of them at home.

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1. Owning a Tank

What do you get for the person who has everything? How about a tank? While you can’t go to your local car dealer, throw them a few thousand bucks, and leave the lot with a new one, it is possible to own a decommissioned tank legally in the United States, provided the cannon isn’t functional. The motor and treads can still work, so even though you can’t go on a destructive rampage through your neighborhood, destroying everything in sight, you can drive it to 7-11 and back for coffee.

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2. Underage Drinking, Sometimes

As everyone with a fake I.D. knows, the legal drinking age in the United States is 21, a rigorously enforced law at liquor stores and convenience stores. However, according to WebMD, there are some loopholes depending on which state you’re in. For example, in 29 states, those under 21 can drink alcohol with their parent’s permission in a private residence or on private property. In 16 states, the underage can drink alcohol if a doctor has prescribed it for medical reasons. We would very much like to know what those reasons are.

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3. Marrying Your First Cousin

If you’ve ever wanted to marry your first cousin – and who hasn’t? – your ship has come in. While 24 of the 50 United States expressly forbid such unions, they’re legal in 19 states, and in seven others, such as Maine, first cousins can marry only with genetic counseling, while others endorse it only if one partner is sterile. Meanwhile, in North Carolina, only marriage between double first cousins is prohibited.

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4. Driving Barefoot

Many Americans like to shed their footwear when they drive, presumably to feel the sweet burn of the gas pedal when they floor it, or something like that. Since it’s kind of gross and nobody wants to look at your stinky feet, many people over the years have assumed that this practice is prohibited by law, but in fact, it’s legal nationwide. So kick off your shoes, fire up the engine, and enjoy our nation’s roadways. And step on it!

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5. Owning a Flamethrower

It’s kind of hard to understand why any civilian homeowner would want one, but if someone does, they will be pleased to know that in many of these United States, there are no specifically enumerated laws against flamethrower ownership. If you own one or are looking to own one, we recommend that you refrain from using it to settle noise complaints with your neighbors as strongly as possible.


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6. Salvia

Salvia is a plant with psychoactive properties that are unlocked when the user smokes, chews, or drinks it. It might seem strange and arbitrary that this substance is perfectly legal in the United States at the federal level and in 20 individual states, while other substances that may arguably be less harmful can carry lengthy prison sentences. However, this may simply be because Salvia has not yet been the subject of widespread rigorous academic study

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7. Owning a Tiger

In 2022, President Biden H.R. 263, the “Big Cat Public Safety Act,” which prevents the unlicensed from owning, breeding, or transporting animals like tigers. However, a loophole presented itself to Joe Exotic wannabes in the form of a grace period given to people who already owned a tiger (or a cheetah, a cougar, a jaguar, a leopard, or a lion), provided they were registered with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service by June  2023. Sadly, if you missed the deadline, that falls under the category of “too bad,” but if you were able to avail yourself of it in a timely fashion, we wish you great joy in owning and raising a panther.

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8. Cannibalism

Believe it or not, there is no law currently on the books prohibiting the practice of cannibalism, otherwise known as dining upon human flesh. All well and good, but you may run afoul of the law when it comes to acquiring the foodstuffs to dine upon. Murder, for example, is illegal, so that avenue of securing a lifeless human body is only open to scofflaws. Furthermore, according to Cornell Law School, “even if someone consents to being eaten and ends their own life, the cannibal may still be liable for criminal or civil actions based on laws governing the abuse or desecration of a corpse, which vary by jurisdiction.”

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9. Open Carrying a Sword

Usually, when people refer to “open carry,” they’re talking about firearms, as in, “This is America, and I have the right to open carry when I go to Starbucks.” However, if you find guns uncivilized and prefer to channel the days of the Japanese ronin, there are some limited scenarios in the United States in which you can totally open carry a sword. In both New York State and California, any weapon with a fixed blade, such as a sword, must be worn in plain view. In Texas, swords are banned completely unless you’re using one in a historical demonstration or ceremony.

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10. Unpasteurized Milk

Most of us really have no issue whatsoever with the fact that milk sold in the United States is pasteurized. In fact, many Americans don’t even know that “pasteurization” is a food preservation process in which milk is subjected to mild heat to eliminate those nasty pathogens. If you actually want those pathogens for reasons best known to you, you can always drink unpasteurized milk, which is legal to buy and sell in 26 states and “prohibited with exception” in three. It may well earn you a one-way trip to the emergency room, but what price can you put on freedom?

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11. Building Your Own Gun at Home

Hobbies. We all have them, whether it’s restoring antique furniture or going on all-male quilting retreats. If those don’t do it for you, you can always build guns at home, which is legal at the federal level although laws vary from state to state. Machine guns are not kosher to make on your own at home, but if you want to make something that will annihilate empty beer cans on a gunshot-by-gunshot basis, feel free.

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12. Texting and Driving

Texting while driving is expressly banned in 45 of the 50 United States of America and all but banned in four other states. If you’re the kind of person who can’t let 15 minutes elapse without texting, “Yas queen, how u doing, guuuurl” to your bestie, then we advise you to operate your motor vehicle in Montana. There is no law whatsoever forbidding texting and driving there, so if you must engage in these two practices simultaneously, go there and have at it.

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13. Family Seating Fees on Airplanes

When you’re flying with your family, you’re naturally going to want your kids to sit next to you or as close to you as possible. Some airlines will charge a fee to make this very reasonable wish a reality, and if you don’t pay it, your five-year-old may be seated in a completely separate part of the plane, which is not a great thing for anybody on a nine-hour flight. In 2023, four airlines – Alaska, American, Frontier, and JetBlue – discontinued this practice, but it remains in effect on many other airlines. 

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14. Dubious Dietary Supplements

If you’ve ever gone to your pharmacy’s vitamin aisle and seen the many dietary supplements there, you can be forgiven for assuming all of them have been reviewed and tested for safety. If you think that, you’re mistaken. According to Pew Charitable Trusts, “the Food and Drug Administration oversees supplements, [but] it does not review or test their safety before they are sold. The agency has no way of knowing for certain what supplements are on the market, nor what they contain. In addition, FDA cannot mandate recalls for supplements that may be tainted with illegal pharmaceuticals.”

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15. Multi-Level Marketing

To many people, multi-level marketing (MLM) is just a nicer name for a pyramid scheme. According to the Federal Trade Commission, the difference between a pyramid scheme and multi-level marketing is that in the case of the pyramid scheme, you make your money by recruiting a group of poor saps to buy goods from you to sell on their own and too bad for them if they lose all their money. In a multi-level marketing business, you earn money by selling goods to retail customers rather than the distributors you recruit. While that scenario is legal, the FTC warned, “Most people who join legitimate MLMs make little or no money. Some of them lose money. In some cases, people believe they’ve joined a legitimate MLM, but it turns out to be an illegal pyramid scheme that steals everything they invest and leaves them deeply in debt.”

This article was produced and syndicated by MediaFeed.

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