(Last Updated On: June 29, 2021)

We’ve come a long way in the past century. Whereas we used to have laws prohibiting marijuana and birth control, today, it’s a different story. Women now have a voice, and people who need marijuana can use it. 

It’s genuinely shocking what was illegal back then. Of course, there are still plenty of laws that need changing today. But many of the crazy laws back then have since been repealed. 

Let’s see how surprised you are by these five things that used to be illegal in the U.S. It’s unbelievable! 

1. Marijuana 

It wasn’t that long ago where marijuana was illegal. Now, over half the states in the U.S. allow medicinal or recreational weed. Marijuana is helping people who suffer from many conditions. It can help treat depression, anxiety, pain and even control nausea. 

Sometimes it’s hard to keep up with the marijuana laws. Depending on which state you live in, you can check out this interactive map by DISA. The map shows which states allow marijuana for recreational and medical use.

If marijuana is legal in your state, you can get a medical marijuana doctor to prescribe you cannabis. Having a marijuana card makes it accessible for you to get it in your state. Look how far we’ve come!

2. Alcohol 

Via the 18th Amendment, the U.S. did not allow alcohol in 1920. The ban lasted 13 years. During that time, no one could produce, import, or sell alcoholic beverages. 

While alcohol was illegal, bootlegging became popular. And, in this illicit market, exclusive clubs served alcohol anyway despite the ban. 

Then, in 1933, the United States repealed Prohibition. Under the new terms, states could set their own laws to sell alcohol. Today, there are still many counties and parishes that do not allow alcohol.

You better believe though that now at most establishments you can sip on a glass of wine without a care in the world! 

3. Birth Control 

In 1960 the FDA approved birth control, but it didn’t matter because, in many states, it was still illegal. Doctors were unable to prescribe it or even provide information about it. 

Fast forward five years later when the Supreme Court made birth control legal in all 50 states. After that point, a much-needed national movement began to improve women’s rights.

4. Shopping on Sunday

Up until the 1980s, shopping was not allowed on Sundays in states like Virginia and Maryland. The reason why shopping was not allowed was that the states wanted to honor the Lord’s day. 

Crazy enough, some restaurants and businesses had this law for over a hundred years! States repealed the blue laws, and today, you can hit the malls and dine out any Sunday you want!

5. Bathing Suits

In the 1920s, if you were a woman who wanted to spend some fun in the sun wearing a bathing suit, you couldn’t. Many ordinances in the U.S. fined women for indecent exposure. 

The “public indecency” laws didn’t stick for long, though. As things progressed, so did bathing suits. Today, bikinis, tankinis, and one-piece bathing suits make it easy to swim and enjoy the warm weather! 


Are you curious about what other things used to be banned in the United States? 

Here are a few others you can look up and read more about when you have time: 

  • Going to the circus on Sunday
  • Interracial marriage
  • Playing pinball
  • Segregation
  • Dancing 

Things always progress and change. Even so, there were some unfair laws we wish would have been done away with right away. 

In the case of all these, it’s a good thing they are no longer illegal! 

It’s best not to take things for granted. It wasn’t too long ago where things like marijuana or even birth control were accessible to us.

Written by Kathy Cooley