17 Things That Are Legal in the US But Shouldn’t Be

The United States of America has different laws and regulations depending on each state. Some things that are legal in America are often questioned by many. Here are 17 things that are legal in the U.S. but shouldn’t be.

Over-the-Counter Medication

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When you hear of drug abuse, it’s rare that your first thought would be over-the-counter medication. Open Access Government reports that it’s illegal to sell cough medicine to anyone under 18 in California; however, this law is not in place for the whole of America. Unfortunately, people are getting addicted to these forms of medication.

Cash Bail System

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After committing a felony in America, you have the option to pay for your bail. This option is not available in many countries across the world. It can be a disadvantage to low-income individuals who can’t afford bail, and it presents an argument for inequality in the justice system.

Civil Asset Forfeiture

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Civil asset forfeiture allows law enforcement to seize assets from someone if they believe they have been used in criminal activity. The owner of the property doesn’t even need to be guilty of a crime. This has led to some cases where law enforcement officials have abused their power.

Private Prisons

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The Sentencing Project writes that as of 2022, 8% of incarcerated people were in private prisons. This spanned across 27 U.S. states, meaning 23 states do not have any private prisons. There are concerns with these prisons that they can be profit-driven and lack the correct ethical standards. 

Tobacco Advertising

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Tobacco companies have been known to spend billions of dollars advertising their products in the U.S. each year. This can negatively impact society, with high addiction rates and a younger population using their products. The consumption of tobacco can also have health consequences. 

Solitary Confinement

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In some countries, there are laws against the use of solitary confinement, but in America, this is not the case. Solitary confinement presents its own risks to prisoners, with isolation having a negative impact on their mental health. These conditions are seen by many as unethical. 

Voter ID Laws

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As mentioned by MIT Election, “All states have voter identification requirements, ranging from simply announcing one’s name to showing an official photo ID card.” This presents an argument that having to show a photo ID is a barrier and has a negative impact on preventing low-income individuals from voting.

Payday Loans

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Payday loans have a mixed reception in America, as they’re legal in some states but not others. Payday loans offer a quick fix for people in financial need. They’re relatively easy to obtain, which means lenders can prey on the financially vulnerable with their high interest rates.

Ticket Scalping

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Across some states in America, ticket scalping is still legal. This allows people to purchase tickets for things such as sporting and music events and resell them for a higher price to gain a substantial profit. This means true fans get priced out of attending such events, as it becomes unaffordable.

Child Marriage 

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According to Unchained at Last, child marriage still remains legal in 39 U.S. states.

This can have a negative impact on a child’s well-being, preventing them from experiencing a normal life and forcing them to mature too soon. There’s also concern for their safety, as some of these marriages are seen as forced upon them. 

Revenge Pornography

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Nonconsensual pornography is illegal in some countries around the world but is not unlawful in America. There’s a strong argument that it should be made illegal, as without consent from the other party, it can cause a great deal of psychological harm to the victim involved. 

Plastic Bag Usage

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Parts of America have already banned the use of plastic bags; however, there is still part of the country that has yet to follow. With a clear understanding of the implications plastic has on wildlife and environmental pollution, this is a law many want to bring in to protect our planet.

Horse Racing

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Horse racing is still legal in America and is an opportunity for people to gamble on the race outcome at the peril of the animals. This sport is a social event but many people, including animal rights activists, are calling for it to stop and prevent further cruelty to horses.


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Gambling is legal in America, with states having the option to regulate or prohibit it if they wish. Gambling can be seen as a culture that is getting out of hand, as it presents an opportunity for addiction. Victims aren’t receiving or seeking the correct help to fight their disease.

Subminimum Wage for Tipped Workers

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Those who work in industries such as hospitality, where the tipping culture is ever present, are often paid extremely low wages compared to workers across America in other lines of work. This means workers do not have the financial security they get from working in other industries.

Gun Control Laws

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Owning a regulated firearm is legal in America. Due to an increase in gun-related crime incidents, there’s a strong argument that it should be illegal to own a gun. There’s evidence in countries where it’s illegal that there are much fewer gun-related incidents due to its unlawfulness. 

Unpaid Internships

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Internships are a great way to get experience in a particular field; however, in America, it is believed that over 40% of internships are still unpaid. This is seen by many as exploitation and a way for businesses to benefit from getting free labor.

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