18 Things You Think Are Illegal but Aren’t
It may come as a surprise, but all of these things are legal in the U.S., at least in some parts.
Having a monkey for a pet
Ross had one on Friends, so maybe you thought you too could keep a monkey as a pet. The thing about Friends, though—it’s fictional. In real life, you can’t have a pet monkey anywhere in New York, Alaska, Georgia, Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Ohio, Utah, and Vermont. That said, good news for wanna-be monkey parents: It’s legal in all the 38 other states. In fact, in Oregon, you can have a monkey as a service animal, should your needs require it.
Owning other exotic animals
Think you can’t have a bear for a pet? You’re wrong if you live in Massachusetts, where you can legally purchase your very own living, breathing Teddy. Want a pet giraffe? You can have one in Florida. Pet tiger? You can have one in Delaware, as long as you obtain a license. Pet cheetah? Pet lion? Oklahoma is fine with both, according to FindLaw.com.
Fat-free chips made with Olestra
Back in the 1990s, Proctor & Gamble came out with a fat substitute called Olestra (also known as Olean), and for a while, people ate it up in products like WOW potato chips by Frito Lay. It fell out of favor once people started realizing their frequent trips to the bathroom seemed to happen soon after ingesting these fat-free treats. For a while, the FDA required warning labels on Olestra-containing foods, but not since 2003. Still fully legal in the U.S., Olestra is banned in Canada and all the countries in the European Union. Here are 9 more U.S. ingredients that are banned in other countries.
Foods containing arsenic
Arsenic is one of the World Health Organization’s top ten chemicals of “major health concern.” “Long-term exposure to high levels of arsenic is associated with higher rates of skin, bladder, and lung cancers, as well as heart disease,” reports the FDA. The FDA has released statements about the presence of arsenic in rice, apples, and all organic fruits. But unlike the countries of the European Union, the U.S. has no ban on arsenic in our food. Find out the strangest food law in every state.
A baby walker is a seemingly adorable wheeled device that allows an infant to “stand upright” and “walk” by fluttering their tiny feet on the floor. But some medical experts believe they impair baby’s development, and some go so far as to call them dangerous (since they can help a baby go to places they shouldn’t be, like the top of a staircase). Baby walkers are banned in Canada, but they’re legal here in United States pretty much across the board.
Spanking in school
Any kind of physical force used as a means of discipline (slapping, spanking, paddling, etc.) is known legally as “corporal punishment.” If you were never spanked in school, perhaps it’s because you grew up in New Jersey, where corporal punishment in schools has been illegal since 1867. However, corporal punishment is permitted in the following states: Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Wyoming.
Spanking at home
Spanking in school is legal in many states, but spanking at home is legal in all states. So is kicking, slapping, and whipping, as long as it’s considered “reasonable discipline” by a parent or caretaker. What is reasonable discipline? That’s determined by case law, so if you’re accused of “child abuse” when you thought you were engaging in “reasonable discipline,” your local judge will get to decide what’s reasonable and what isn’t.
Marrying your cousin
Although some view it with a negative stigma, the fact is you can marry your cousin in every state in the United States. The only issue is which cousin. At least 34 states go so far as to allow you to marry your first cousin, which is your aunt/uncle’s kid. That being said, some states in which marriage between first cousins is permitted only permit it under certain circumstances (as in Arizona, where the couple must be over 65 years of age or in West Virginia, where only adopted first cousins are allowed to wed). Check out these 13 marriage laws you might be breaking right now.
In most states, it’s perfectly legal to bury your loved ones right in your backyard. Just be sure to pay attention to zoning laws (for example, laws which say how close to a body of water a burial may take place), and it’s always a good idea to consult a specialist.
Drinking booze…even if you’re under-age
The minimum age for legally drinking alcohol is 21 in all 50 states, but there are loopholes in all but five (those are Alabama, Arkansas, Idaho, New Hampshire, and West Virginia). For instance, there are:
- 29 states where minors can drink legally on private property with parental presence and consent
- 6 states where minors can drink on private property without parental presence and consent
- 25 states where minors can drink for religious reasons
- 16 states where minors can drink for medical reasons
- 11 states where minors can drink for educational purposes (think: culinary school)
Don’t miss these 8 things that will probably be illegal in the next 50 years.