Pepper Spray Laws

What Are the Pepper Spray Laws in the United States?

It is legal for you to use pepper spray for self-defense purposes in all 50 states.

When you want to carry and use pepper spray, the rules start to get a little murkier. There might be regulations about how much you can have, the product’s concentration strength, and age restrictions.

A total of 13 states in 2022 have specific conditions to review in their pepper spray laws.

Where Can I Carry Pepper Spray?

Since pepper spray is legal to purchase in all 50 states, anyone who is 18 or older is typically permitted to buy and carry the product.

Besides age, the only restriction that applies to pepper spray ownership involves past criminal behavior. If you’ve been convicted of a felony, your state laws may prohibit purchases of this product since it could be considered a weapon.

Here is an overview of the current pepper spray laws in the United States and what to expect if you want to include this self-defense tool for your protection profile.

Who Is Permitted to Carry Pepper Spray?

Since pepper spray is legal to purchase in all 50 states, anyone who is 18 or older is typically permitted to purchase and carry the product.

The only restriction besides age that applies to pepper spray ownership involves past criminal behavior. If you’ve been convicted of a felony, your state laws may prohibit purchases of this product since it could be considered a weapon.

Here is an overview of what the current pepper spray laws are in the United States and what to expect if you want to include this self-defense tool for your protection profile.

StateSize RestrictionAdditional Information
AlabamaNo
AlaskaYesAnyone carrying pepper spray in this state must be at least 18 years old. It is not permitted to take this self-defense tool into a school.
ArizonaNo
ArkansasYesThis state prohibits carrying pepper spray in containers that exceed 150 cubic centimeters.
CaliforniaYesThe pepper spray container in this state cannot exceed 2.5 ounces. All users must be 18 and “cannot be addicted” to any narcotic drug.
ColoradoNo
ConnecticutNo
DelawareYesThis state requires purchasers to be 18 years old.
FloridaYesThe pepper spray container cannot be more than two ounces, and anyone convicted of a felony is not allowed to possess it.
GeorgiaNo
HawaiiYesPurchasers must be at least 18 years old. If the pepper spray is bought online or shipped from a local supplier, it must be in a container of fewer than 0.5 ounces.
IdahoNo
IllinoisYesThis state requires purchasers to be 18 years old.
IndianaNo
IowaNo
KansasNo
KentuckyNo
LouisianaNo
MaineYesThe pepper spray laws in this state say that this substance’s “criminal use” is illegal.
MarylandYesChildren are not permitted to use pepper spray between one hour after sunset and one hour before sunrise.
MassachusettsYesThis state requires animal-formula pepper spray in shipments. If you are not allowed to possess a pistol, you cannot own pepper spray.
MichiganYesCannot contain more than 35 grams of orthochlorobenzalmalononitrile (tear gas) and inert ingredients. The pepper spray cannot be more than 18% oleoresin capsicum or contain an ultraviolet dye. Must be 18 to purchase.
MinnesotaYesRequires purchasers to be at least 16 years old. Anyone who cannot possess a firearm is restricted from owning this item.
MississippiNo
MissouriNo
MontanaNo
NebraskaNo
NevadaYesMinors cannot possess pepper spray in this state. All containers must be two ounces or less.
New HampshireNo
New JerseyYesMust be 18. Anyone convicted of a felony is not allowed to possess pepper spray. All containers must be “pocket sized” and release no more than 0.75 ounces when deployed.
New MexicoNo
New YorkYesOnly animal formulas are permitted for shipments. The container must fit in a pocket. Individuals are restricted to two items in a single transaction. Anyone convicted of an assault charge (including misdemeanors) or a felony cannot possess pepper spray.
North CarolinaYesAll pepper spray containers must be five ounces or less.
North DakotaNo
OhioNo
OklahomaNo
OregonNo
PennsylvaniaNo
Rhode IslandYesThis state requires all purchasers to be at least 18 years old.
South CarolinaNo
South DakotaNo
TennesseeNo
TexasNo
UtahNo
VermontNo
VirginiaNo
WashingtonYesWith parental permission, minors who are at least 14 years old can purchase pepper spray. Without permission, you must be 18.
West VirginiaNo
WisconsinYesThis state requires all pepper spray containers to be under two ounces in size. The product must contain less than 10% oleoresin capsicum. It cannot be camouflaged or disguised. Minors can buy with parental permission; otherwise, the individual must be over the age of 18.
WyomingNo

All states require you to be at least 18 to purchase pepper spray unless parent permission statutes are on the books.

Human vs. Animal Pepper Spray

Some states require animal formulations when shipping pepper spray as a self-defense tool. The two standard animal-based products are for bears and dogs.

A standard human defense spray delivers about two million Scoville Heat Units. A product made for dogs contains almost half that potency.

Bear formulations have a slightly higher capsaicin rating than a human defense spray, so it helps to check local laws to determine its use or availability. Bear sprays must pass EPA testing requirements to ensure the product is humane.

Should I Purchase Pepper Spray to Defend Myself?

The self-defense weapon you choose to use depends on your personal preferences. If you’re comfortable using pepper sprays and gels, it makes sense to invest in this resource.

Other self-defense options are available, ranging from loud alarms to stun guns. Each product offers specific pros and cons to consider for your situation.

The one advantage that pepper spray offers is that it has the fewest restrictions against ownership and use across the United States. Before finalizing your purchase, please verify that no local statutes prohibit ownership.