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3 Popular Side Hustles That Are (Still) Illegal

handing out cash, money for a side hustle or job
By Lisa M. Schaffer, Esq. on January 17, 2019 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

These days, everyone's talking about a side hustle, either doing one, fixin' to do one, or just daydreaming about the possibilities. Side hustles take up a lot of spare time, but can make you a lot of spare money too! If you're thinking about joining the gig economy, but aren't sure it's for you, keep in mind these three trending side hustles that are still illegal, despite their popularity.

1. Growing Weed for Sale

Numerous states have legalized pot in one form or another, and many people believe that even the feds are about to join the ranks. Though medicinal marijuana is widely legal, and legal recreational use is garnering support, it is still illegal to sell it to anyone without a state (or in the case of hemp, federal) permit.

And there are even limits on growing it. Every state has different laws. For example, in California, it has been legal for anyone over the age of 21 to grow six marijuana plants per household since 2016, so long as those plants are kept out of public view. However, local governments can put restrictions on homegrows, such as banning outdoor gardens completely, or permits on indoor grows. You can grow your own, but limited to amounts for personal consumption and the occasional gift. But absent a permit, you can't grow weed for sale.

2. Sports Betting

Sports betting is much more common, and lucrative, than you might think. It has historically been an underground industry, and some estimate the market has grown to $100 billion worldwide.

In May 2018, the United States Supreme Court nullified the federal law that outlawed sports betting basically everywhere outside of Nevada. Now, individual states are allowed to make their own rules regarding sports gambling. To date, only five states have legalized sports gambling, including Nevada, Delaware, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and West Virginia.

If you are betting outside of these states, even just placing bets with your friends on college football games to get a little cash in your pocket for the weekend, it is still illegal.

3. Selling Homemade Food

Perhaps someone has told you that your homemade pasta sauce or chicken noodle soup is so good, you should sell it. Before your mind starts counting the jars you could turn out, and cash you could bring in, this is illegal in some states.

"Cottage Food" laws, named after the industry and not the cheese, is the term used for laws that regulate food made in personal homes, rather than commercial kitchens. Many years ago, in 2012, California passed a law allowing home cooks to sell certain foods with "low risk" goods like jams and pickles out of their home. But in 2018, the state broadened that law to including a variety of perishable foods.

However, there are now safety precautions, including obtaining a permit and a food manager's certification, as well as agreeing to unscheduled inspections, basically creating quasi-commercial home kitchens. Many states have similar laws on selling cottage foods, and some states ban it entirely. So before you go hawking your baked good at the local PTA meeting or farmer's market, make sure it's legal in your town.

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