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.
|State||Size Restriction||Additional Information|
|Alaska||Yes||Anyone 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.|
|Arkansas||Yes||This state prohibits carrying pepper spray in containers that exceed 150 cubic centimeters.|
|California||Yes||The pepper spray container in this state cannot exceed 2.5 ounces. All users must be 18 and “cannot be addicted” to any narcotic drug.|
|Delaware||Yes||This state requires purchasers to be 18 years old.|
|Florida||Yes||The pepper spray container cannot be more than two ounces, and anyone convicted of a felony is not allowed to possess it.|
|Hawaii||Yes||Purchasers 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.|
|Illinois||Yes||This state requires purchasers to be 18 years old.|
|Maine||Yes||The pepper spray laws in this state say that this substance’s “criminal use” is illegal.|
|Maryland||Yes||Children are not permitted to use pepper spray between one hour after sunset and one hour before sunrise.|
|Massachusetts||Yes||This state requires animal-formula pepper spray in shipments. If you are not allowed to possess a pistol, you cannot own pepper spray.|
|Michigan||Yes||Cannot 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.|
|Minnesota||Yes||Requires purchasers to be at least 16 years old. Anyone who cannot possess a firearm is restricted from owning this item.|
|Nevada||Yes||Minors cannot possess pepper spray in this state. All containers must be two ounces or less.|
|New Jersey||Yes||Must 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 York||Yes||Only 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 Carolina||Yes||All pepper spray containers must be five ounces or less.|
|Rhode Island||Yes||This state requires all purchasers to be at least 18 years old.|
|Washington||Yes||With parental permission, minors who are at least 14 years old can purchase pepper spray. Without permission, you must be 18.|
|Wisconsin||Yes||This 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.|
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 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.