California Pepper Spray Use Laws and Ownership Regulations

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We take the time to research and stay up-to-date on CA state self defense laws and regulations, so you don't have to. We guarantee if you are over 18 and have not been convicted of a felony or assault, any self defense product purchased from our listing of "CA legal products" is legal to ship/use/carry in the state of California at the time of purchase. Most cities and counties simply comply with the state level laws, however, we recommend you check with your local city or county for any additional restrictions.
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Video Explanation of CA State Laws


In Plain English:
California state laws for pepper spray & self defense products

The Basics:

  • Pepper spray is LEGAL to buy, use, carry and ship to California (*with below restrictions).
  • Pepper spray canisters must be less than 2.5 oz.
  • User must be at least 18 years of age
  • User cannot be addicted to narcotic substances
  • User cannot have a convicted felony on record
  • Must be used only for self defense.

CA state governments and law makers understand that pepper spray can be a handy self defense product for protecting your personal safety. Not only can defense sprays give you protection against a human attacker, but most vicious dogs, bears, mountain lions and other wild animals can be temporarily disabled by a single shot of pepper spray. California is a vast state with both high-population metropolitan areas, like San Francisco and Los Angeles, and more remote outdoor locations where you may encounter a wild animal. In either case, a pepper spray device can be a necessary asset of survival and personal security.

However, the state of California does have a few rules and regulations regarding the use of pepper spray. It is absolutely legal to carry pepper spray and use it to protect your personal safety without having any special state or federal permits. CA laws do regulate the size and/or weight of the defense spray products you can carry and buy. The legal container size must be equal to or below 2.5 ounces of active product. There are many pepper spray items and models that comply with this state set standard.

The pepper spray carried, shipped, sold or used in California should also be labeled with a warning stating that the product is only intended for self-defense. In general, most state laws (California included) enforce that pepper spray should only be used in self defense situations where you fear your life or safety is in danger. Illegal use of pepper spray products (perhaps dispensing them out of anger or as non self defense violence against another person) can bring fines of $1000 and up and/or three years in prison.


In Legal Jargon:
What the official California state law says

Penal Code 12401. ""Tear gas" as used in this chapter shall apply to and include all liquid, gaseous or solid substances intended to produce temporary physical discomfort or permanent injury through being vaporized or otherwise dispersed in the air...."
"Penal Code Title 2: Control of Deadly Weapons Chapter 4: Tear Gas Weapons Article 1: General Provisions Section 12403.7

Notwithstanding any other law, any person may purchase, possess, or use tear gas and tear gas weapons for the projection or release of tear gas if the tear gas and tear gas weapons are used solely for self-defense purposes, subject to the following requirements:

(a) No person convicted of a felony or any crime involving an assault under the laws of the United States, the State of California, or any other state, government, or country or convicted of misuse of tear gas under subdivision (g) shall purchase, possess, or use tear gas or tear gas weapons.

(b) No person who is addicted to any narcotic drug shall purchase, possess, or use tear gas or tear gas weapons.

(c) No person shall sell or furnish any tear gas or tear gas weapon to a minor.

(d) No person who is a minor shall purchase, possess, or use tear gas or tear gas weapons.

(e) (1) No person shall purchase, possess, or use any tear gas weapon that expels a projectile, or that expels the tear gas by any method other than an aerosol spray, or that contains more than 2.5 ounces net weight of aerosol spray."