Lawyer Blogger

Is it illegal to pepper spray someone?

Pepper Spray Keychain Legal

Oleoresin Capsicum, which is otherwise largely identified as pepper spray, was first introduced by Kamran Logham. The initial idea behind O.C. spray was to facilitate riot control, being that pepper spray is a lachrymatory agent made it easier for police officers to restrain individuals and contain chaotic riots. Over time, capsicum spray has been adopted as a primary self-defence tool by civilians against looming danger- be it aggressive animals or human perpetrators. Even with pepper spray widely commercialized in most civilized countries, some states prohibit this compound’s use and possession. Based on the effects of O.C. spray on subjects which mostly translates into temporary blindness, inflammation, short breath and possibly death when expelled in large quantities and concentration, some states felt the need to restrict and regulate the use of pepper spray within their borders. Here is a comprehensive peek into some of the worlds differing laws on pepper spray.


Canadian laws are quite elaborate on pepper spray, categorizing it under Canada’s Firearm Act. The federal legislation specifically indicates that devices designed to incapacitate, immobilize or injure any human upon discharge are illegal. Thereby, pepper gas is profoundly illegal in the state of Canada. As per the Canadian Criminal Code, acquisition, manufacturing, distribution and use of pepper spray by any civilian with the intent of harming other persons is a breach of law. However, there is a single exception- Oleoresin Capsicum approved by the Pest Control Product Act can be carried and utilized by a civilian in the right setting.

In sum, you are legally permitted to purchase O.C. spray designated for use on bears and dogs with valid justification; walking around with a Mace canister in your local café could land you in trouble. In addition to the bear and dog spray exception, the Canadian government reserves the right to possess and use O.C. gas for serving police officers. Failure to abide by the enacted pepper spray legislation could result in a criminal charge with a penalty of $500,000 and a 3-year jail term.


In the United States of America, pepper spray is legalized in all 50 states with a catch- each of the 50 states has regulations and restrictions on the use and possession of capsicum spray. It is important to note the states of Massachusetts, Washington DC, New York, Alaska, and Hawaii. In both Massachusetts and the Big Apple, capsicum spray can only be sold and bought from a licensed firearms dealer. On the other hand, Hawaii, Alaska and Washington DC bars the shipping of any capsicum spray.

Categorically, most pepper gas restrictions in the U.S. fall under age, content, permissible strength, and acquisition mode. For instance, the California Penal Code prohibits possession and use of pepper spray for minors below the age of 16 and convicted felons. On the other hand, Washington permits the use of O.C. spray by minors aged 14 for their self-defence on the condition that their legal guardian consents.


Australia as a state lacks general federal ruling on the legality of pepper spray. However, local ordinances permit and prohibit acquiring and using oleoresin capsicum spray within their borderlines. The states of Tasmania, Queensland, Northern Territory and New South Wales, for instance, regard capsicum spray as a prohibited weapon; the use, purchase and sale of the pepper spray by federally unauthorized individuals is, therefore, a criminal offence. Pepper spray legislation in Victoria and Southern Australia and the Australian Capital is no different: possessing and using illegal weapons like Mace spray without a permit or authorization to do so is illegal.

Generally, all states in Australia except Western Australia designate pepper spray use and ownership as a criminal offence punishable by law. Western Australia conversely permits its civilians to acquire and utilize O.C. gas for self-protection with a justifiable cause since 2003. The Australian government has set penalties for breaching the pepper spray codes as monetary fines, property confiscation, prosecution and possible jail time. The NSW, for one, exercises a maximum of 14 years imprisonment for OC spray-related offences. However, most prohibited weapons charges, especially capsicum spray, are locally prosecuted, and they carry a jail term of 2 years.

The U.K.

In the United Kingdom, pepper spray has been unquestionably banned since 1968. The United Kingdom Firearms Act specifically denotes that weapons designed or adapted to dispel any toxic gas or liquid are prohibited- this, however, is not to say that O.C. sprays do not entirely exist in the U.K. Police officers are the only exception made when it comes to acquiring and handling oleoresin capsicum canisters. Furthermore, O.C. spray is a part of the law enforcers standard equipment according to Section 5 (1) (b) of the United Kingdom Firearms Act.

On the other hand, civilians spotted carrying, importing or using pepper spray will face legal charges similar to those of illegal gun possession. The legal ramifications for capsicum spray possession could fall from arrest to prosecution and a consequential criminal record. You are legally advised to use a criminal identifier that discharges visible and invisible marker dye on your attacker in the instance that you feel unsafe. The marker will help the law enforcement system and common citizens identify criminals easily, and it lasts up to at least a week.

Pepper spray, however practical as a self-defence mechanism, is still imminently dangerous. Consequently, all the states, even those that legalize the possession and use of capsicum gas, have regulations surrounding them. When used in large quantities and high concentration, pepper gas ceases to be a bare irritant as it causes temporary blindness, panic, shortness of breath or, in the worst case, death. Even though a significant percentage of civilized countries permit the use and ownership of Mace, it wouldn’t be accurate to rule out all the states.

Ultimately, one should always familiarize themselves with their state’s legal code surrounding the possession, restriction, requirement and utilization of O.C. spray. Grasping all the federal acts on legally permitted and banned weapons in their complexity is nearly impossible. Therefore, local law enforcement agencies are always more than willing to lend a hand. Do not hesitate to reach out to your local officials for insight before ordering that Mace spray online, lest you endanger yourself and the public at large.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recent Posts