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Legal Status
by Erowid
Caution :   All legal information should be verified through other sources. [see below]
Approved For
Human Consumption
in weapon products
Capsaicin from edible chile peppers is allowed in human food by the U.S. FDA and other countries' health regulatory bodies. In the U.S., there is no maximum amount of capsaicin for food products. In the U.S., Capsicum spp. peppers are allowed as Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS) under 21CFR182.10, and use of pepper spray for self-defense is exempted from control by the Chemical Weapons Convention. Capsaicin extracted from plant sources are also GRAS under 21CFR182.20. Other regulations allow for the use of capsaicin in "Fever blister and cold sore treatment products" (21CFR310.545).

Use and possession of capsaicin-containing spray weapons (Pepper Spray) are controlled in many states and countries. The capsaicin-containing sprays are often called "OC" sprays, short for Oleoresin Capsicum (capsicum extract). Pepper sprays are completely banned on airplanes in the United States and some other countries.

Several states, including Hawaii, Indiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Wisconsin, restrict or prohibit sales of capsaicin-containing spray weapons through the mail.

Some colleges and universities specifically ban pepper sprays and other tear gas weapons.

California #
California regulates capsaicin-containing spray weapons under "Tear gas" and prohibits sales to minors, those convicted of assault, and those "addicted to any narcotic drug". Use of pepper spray on someone "except in self-defense is guilty of a public offense" and faces fines and jailtime. (CALIFORNIA CODES, PENAL CODE, SECTION 12401-12404)
Massachusetts #
Sale of capsaicin-containing spray weapons restricted to those with Firearms Identification Cards or other firearms licenses and is thus age-restricted as well.
Michigan #
Capsaicin-containing sprays are legal as long as they have a maximum concentration of 2% capsicum extract (OC).
New York #
Sales of pepper spray restricted to licensed vendors (pharmacies and weapons dealers)
Washington D.C. #
Possession of capsaicin-containing spray weapons requires registration with the D. C. Police.
Wisconsin #
Capsaicin-containing sprays are legal as long as they have a maximum concentration of 10% capsicum extract (OC) and are not mixed with mace, dyes, or other chemicals.
Canada #
Capsaicin-containing spray weapons are prohibited from use by the public in Canada, but are allowed for police and military use.
Denmark #
Denmark disallows the possession and use of Capsaicin-containing spray weapons, with fines ranging from $250-500 with jail time theoretically possible, although jail time has reportedly never been imposed. The police are currently trying the use of pepper spray and are likely to be granted permanent permission to carry and use it in 2007. A few high profile cases of police fatally shooting people inappropriately has caused the Danish public to be in favor of having police carry non-lethal weapons like pepper spray.

The Danish Weapons Law controls the use of pepper spray, stating: "1. It is unlawful, without permission from the minister of justice, or one appointed by him, to import, make, or possess: ... 4) hand grenades, bombs, projectiles or the like, about weapons or ammunition, containing or made to contain liquids or gasses, which by spreading is dangerous or irritating, as well as parts of such." (thanks Anon) (last updated May 2007)
If you have information about the legal status of this substance in any other country, please let us know.

Erowid legal information is a summary of data gathered from site visitors, government documents, websites, and other resources. We are not lawyers and can not guarantee the accuracy of the information provided here. We do our best to keep this information correct and up-to-date, but laws are complex and constantly changing. Laws may also vary from one jurisdiction to another (county, state, country, etc)...this list is not comprehensive.