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California Pepper Spray Laws

Attention California residents: the State of California Department of Justice has recently changed the state’s laws regarding the sale, possession, and use of pepper spray. Here’s what you need to know about California’s laws, both old and new.

Pepper spray falls into the category of “tear gas,” which the state of California defines as any substance—whether solid, liquid, or gas—that is used with the intention of causing permanent injury or temporary physical discomfort when engaged.

In California, anyone can purchase, carry, and use tear gas weapons as long as the devise is used exclusively for self-defense purposes. The following conditions apply for civilian use.

1.   Anyone who has been convicted of a crime or felony under the United States laws, California laws, any other U.S. state laws, or the laws of a foreign country are prohibited from purchasing, possessing, or using tear gas.

2.   Anyone addicted to narcotic drugs is prohibited from purchasing, possessing, or using tear gas.

3.   Selling or providing tear gas to a minor is illegal.

4.   Minors (under 18) may not purchase, carry, or use tear gas.

5.   Tear gas may not expel a projectile; tear gas must be expelled in an aerosol spray; and tear gas containers must not exceed more than 2.5 ounces (net weight).

6.   All tear gas containers must contain a label that states: “WARNING: The use of this substance or devise for any purpose other than self defense is a crime under the law. The contents are dangerous—use with care.”

7.   Tear gas must contain an expiration date.

8.   Tear gas must contain printed instructions for proper use.

9.   Tear gas must contain first aid information, safety and storage guidelines, and an explanation of the legal consequences for misuse of tear gas.

10.  The consequences for misusing tear gas in any way include imprisonment in a California state prison for up to 16 months, up to three years imprisonment in a California county jail, and/or a fine of up to $1000.

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