By Yaël Ossowski |

In many aspects, Vermont isn’t not afraid to buck the status quo.

After the Revolutionary War, it existed as its own republic for nearly 14 years. It was the first state to introduce women’s suffrage in 1880, allow civil unions in 2000 and pass same-sex marriage in 2009.

And while it may be a trendsetter, it has its own strangeness hidden among his many legal achievements, regulating everything from sex to alcohol, tobacco and the village drunks.

Here’s a list of the 10 strangest laws we found on the books in the Green Mountain State:

1. Don’t lie about your horse.

“A person may not willfully or unjustifiably enter or race any horse in any running or trotting race under any name or designation other than the name or designation assigned to such horse by and registered with the Jockey Club or the United States Trotting Association.” 13 V.S.A. § 2153 (6)


2. Never trust the showmen.

“Villages shall have the power to regulate the exhibition of common showmen, and of shows every kind not interdicted by law.” 24 V.S.A. App. § 235-114 (3)

3. Who are “uncommon” prostitutes?

“Villages shall have the power to restrain and punish vagrants, mendicants, and common prostitutes, and to suppress houses of ill-fame.” 24 V.S.A. App. § 235-114 (21)

4. Cash is king.

“A person may not accept, receive, levy or appropriate money or other valuable thing from the proceeds or earnings of a person engaged in prostitution.” 13 V.S.A. § 2637 (a)(2)

5. Sex cannot legally sell.

“No person may knowingly, publicly display nudity or sex for advertising purposes.” 13 V.S.A. § 2804a.

6. Because what’s a tasting without a few government regulations?

“A wine or beer tasting shall continue for no more than six hours, with no more than six beverages to be offered at a single event, and no more than two ounces of any single beverage and no more than a total of eight ounces of various vinous or malt beverages to be dispensed to a customer. No more than eight customers may be served at one time.”7 V.S.A. § 67 (b)


7. Ripping the labels off mattresses isn’t the only thing which will land you a huge fine.

“Any person, other than the wholesaler, who intentionally removes or defaces the label attached to a keg shall be imprisoned not more than two years or fined not more than $1,000.00, or both.” 7 V.S.A. § 67 (d)

8. No license, no tobacco through the mail.

“No person shall cause cigarettes, roll-your-own tobacco, little cigars, or snuff, ordered or purchased by mail or through a computer network, telephonic network, or other electronic network, to be shipped to anyone other than a licensed wholesale dealer or retail dealer in this State.” 7 V.S.A. § 1010

9. The government deals in labels.

“The word “spendthrift” shall be held to include every person who is liable to be put under guardianship on account of excessive drinking, gambling, idleness or debauchery.”14 V.S.A. § 2681

10. Save us from the market emergencies.

“A “market emergency” shall be declared by the governor. “Market emergency” means any abnormal disruption of any market for petroleum products or heating fuel products, including any actual or threatened shortage in the supply of petroleum products or heating fuel products.” 9 V.S.A. § 2461d.

Yaël is a national reporter for Reach him by email at and follow him @YaelOss.

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