State Pepper Spray Laws & Restrictions

State Pepper Spray Laws & Restrictions

Pepper spray is considered a weapon in most countries around the world, including the United States. When intended for use as a personal defense weapon, possession of pepper spray is legal in every state. However, because pepper spray is a weapon, there are certain restrictions placed on the exchange of pepper spray and its intended use against people.

Types of Pepper Spray Restrictions

Pepper spray laws and regulations often limit the size of the containers and strength of the pepper spray solution. Additionally, states sometimes regulate the shipping of pepper spray from online retailers based on its intended use. In states that restrict pepper spray use on humans, it is generally illegal to use bear spray and other animal repellents on humans.


Some states place restrictions on the size of the container the pepper spray comes in. These restrictions typically limit the amount to less than 2.5 ounces of pepper spray per container.


Pepper spray can come in different strengths and with certain additives, and states may regulate the percentage of capsaicin in each container. Some pepper sprays contain tear gas, but this additive is illegal in certain states.


In some states, manufacturers cannot ship pepper spray as a weapon for personal defense against other humans. However, pepper spray intended for use as an animal repellent against dogs and bears can be purchased online and legally shipped in all 48 contiguous states.

States With Pepper Spray Restrictions

Pepper spray laws vary from state to state. Sometimes people are required to register their use of pepper spray with the police, only purchase spray from pharmacies and licensed firearms dealers, or use only certain sizes of spray containers. Listed below are states with specific pepper spray laws and restrictions.


Pepper spray is legal, but the spray canisters must contain 2.5 ounces of pepper spray or less.


If the spray is intended for use against people, then it cannot be shipped within the state of Massachusetts. However, if the spray is for the purposes of animal defense, then it may be shipped and used. People who wish to keep pepper spray for self-defense purposes must get a license from their local police department.


The concentration of the pepper spray is limited to 10 percent or less.

New York

Pepper spray cannot be shipped if it will be used for defense against humans. It can be shipped for use against animals, like bears and dogs.


People may be in possession of small, commercially sold containers of pepper spray.


The strength of the spray is restricted to less than 10 percent. The canister must have a capacity of less than 2 ounces.

Washington D.C.

Here, the use of pepper spray for personal defense is legal. However, people must first register with the police.

If you are considering purchasing pepper spray as a self-defense weapon, then it is important for you to contact local law enforcement about pepper spray laws where you live. Also, find out more about when it’s legal to use pepper spray before proceeding with your purchase.