Pepper Spray Laws – Maryland

Maryland is another state with generally permissive pepper spray laws, although this is one state where you can have only legitimate pepper spray, not tear gas and not a blend of any other defensive spray formulations.

The law is quite specific concerning the formulation of such sprays and its ingredients must be derived from actual peppers.

flag of Maryland

Aside from this, one may carry any size pepper spray canister they choose and can purchase it legally over the counter from any merchant or even have it shipped into the state.

One may not be in possession of pepper spray if they are under the age of 18 years old or have any felony criminal record.

The lack of choice concerning formulation is disappointing, but other than that there is not too much to be sad about. We will dig into all the relevant laws below.

Fast Facts

  • In Maryland citizens are only allowed to possess and use defensive sprays formulated from OC, or actual, natural pepper-derived ingredients.
  • Tear gas sprays and blends containing tear gas, namely CN and CS are not legal. Pay attention when choosing or ordering any defensive spray that may contain a different formula.
  • Any size of pepper spray is allowed for civilian purchase and carry.
  • People under the age of 18 or anyone with a felony criminal record may not be in possession of pepper spray in the state of Maryland.

Overview

Overall Maryland is a decent state for citizens when it comes to pepper spray. Unfortunately, Maryland only allows oleoresin capsicum derived sprays; legitimate OC.

Tear gas sprays consisting of CN or CS formulations are not allowed and neither of these formulas are allowed as a blend, even a minor ingredient, in legal pepper sprays.

No, it is generally accepted that straight OC spray is the most effective choice and the vast majority of self-defense situations this is nonetheless disappointing as some people prefer tear gas for specific situations or might have call for a blend of ingredients to ensure effectiveness across the greatest possible domain of target conditions. Alas, it is OC or nothing in Maryland.

The good news is you can have any size pepper spray canister you wish in the state of Maryland and can buy it over the counter legally and easily pretty much anywhere that it is sold.

You can even have it shipped into the state from an online retailer, not the most common endeavor among the New England states, surprisingly enough.

So long as you are a genuine good guy or good gal you may have pepper spray on or about your person but you may not be in possession of pepper spray if you are under the age of 18 or are a convicted felon or otherwise legally prohibited from owning weapons.

Now, as always, any illegal use of pepper spray or using it for any purpose outside of its prescribed use is a violation of the law.

Conclusion

Maryland allows citizens to make use of defensive sprays that are OC based only, with no tear gas or other synthetic formulations allowed including the common CN or CS types.

Tear gas may also not be included as an ingredient in a predominantly OC based formula. Aside from this, citizens may make use of any size pepper spray canister they desire and legally keep it on or about their person.

It is also worth mentioning that pepper sprays may not be used or possessed by anyone under the age of 18 or by any person who has a felony criminal record or other record which prohibits them from owning weapons.

Relevant State Statutes

***NOTICE: Relevant laws in the following statutes have undergone recent revisions and previous versions may be obsolete. It is your responsibility to ensure you are following all relevant laws concerning weapons, including pepper spray, and self-defense.***

4-101. Dangerous weapons

(a) Definitions. —

(1) In this section the following words have the meanings indicated.

(2) “Nunchaku” means a device constructed of two pieces of any substance, including wood, metal, or plastic, connected by any chain, rope, leather, or other flexible material not exceeding 24 inches in length.

(3)

(i) “Pepper mace” means an aerosol propelled combination of highly disabling irritant pepper-based products.

(ii) “Pepper mace” is also known as oleoresin capsicum (o.c.) spray.

(4) “Star knife” means a device used as a throwing weapon, consisting of several sharp or pointed blades arrayed as radially disposed arms about a central disk.

(5)

(i) “Weapon” includes a dirk knife, bowie knife, switchblade knife, star knife, sandclub, metal knuckles, razor, and nunchaku.

(ii) “Weapon” does not include:

1. a handgun; or

2. a penknife without a switchblade.

(b) Exceptions for certain individuals. — This section does not prohibit the following individuals from carrying a weapon:

(1) an officer of the State, or of any county or municipal corporation of the State, who is entitled or required to carry the weapon as part of the officer’s official equipment, or by any conservator of the peace, who is entitled or required to carry the weapon as part of the conservator’s official equipment, or by any officer or conservator of the peace of another state who is temporarily in this State;

(2) a special agent of a railroad;

(3) a holder of a permit to carry a handgun issued under Title 5, Subtitle 3 of the Public Safety Article; or

(4) an individual who carries the weapon as a reasonable precaution against apprehended danger, subject to the right of the court in an action arising under this section to judge the reasonableness of the carrying of the weapon, and the proper occasion for carrying it, under the evidence in the case.

(c) Prohibited. —

(1) A person may not wear or carry a dangerous weapon of any kind concealed on or about the person.

(2) A person may not wear or carry a dangerous weapon, chemical mace, pepper mace, or a tear gas device openly with the intent or purpose of injuring an individual in an unlawful manner.

(3)

(i) This paragraph applies in Anne Arundel County, Baltimore County, Caroline County, Cecil County, Harford County, Kent County, Montgomery County, Prince George’s County, St. Mary’s County, Talbot County, Washington County, and Worcester County.

(ii) A minor may not carry a dangerous weapon between 1 hour after sunset and 1 hour before sunrise, whether concealed or not, except while:

1. on a bona fide hunting trip; or

2. engaged in or on the way to or returning from a bona fide trap shoot, sport shooting event, or any organized civic or military activity.

(d) Penalties. —

(1) A person who violates this section is guilty of a misdemeanor and on conviction is subject to imprisonment not exceeding 3 years or a fine not exceeding $ 1,000 or both.

(2) For a person convicted under subsection (c)(1) or (2) of this section, if it appears from the evidence that the weapon was carried, concealed or openly, with the deliberate purpose of injuring or killing another, the court shall impose the highest sentence of imprisonment prescribed.

(d) Serious physical injury. — “Serious physical injury” means physical injury that:

(1) creates a substantial risk of death; or

(2) causes permanent or protracted serious:

(i) disfigurement;

(ii) loss of the function of any bodily member or organ; or

(iii) impairment of the function of any bodily member or organ.

3-201. Definitions

(a) In general. — In this subtitle the following words have the meanings indicated.

(b) Assault. — “Assault” means the crimes of assault, battery, and assault and battery, which retain their judicially determined meanings

(c) Law enforcement officer. —

(1) “Law enforcement officer” has the meaning stated in § 3-101(e)(1) of the Public Safety Article without application of § 3-101(e)(2).

(2) “Law enforcement officer” includes:

(i) a correctional officer at a correctional facility; and

(ii) an officer employed by the WMATA Metro Transit Police, subject to the jurisdictional limitations under Article XVI, § 76 of the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority Compact, which is codified in § 10-204 of the Transportation Article.

(d) Serious physical injury. — “Serious physical injury” means physical injury that:

(1) creates a substantial risk of death; or

(2) causes permanent or protracted serious:

(i) disfigurement;

(ii) loss of the function of any bodily member or organ; or

(iii) impairment of the function of any bodily member or organ.

3-203. Assault in the second degree

(a) Prohibited. — A person may not commit an assault.

(b) Penalty. — Except as provided in subsection (c) of this section, a person who violates subsection (a) of this section is guilty of the misdemeanor of assault in the second degree and on conviction is subject to imprisonment not exceeding 10 years or a fine not exceeding $ 2,500 or both.

(c) Officers, agents, first responders. —

(1) In this subsection, “physical injury” means any impairment of physical condition, excluding minor injuries.

(2) A person may not intentionally cause physical injury to another if the person knows or has reason to know that the other is:

(i) a law enforcement officer engaged in the performance of the officer’s official duties;

(ii) a parole or probation agent engaged in the performance of the agent’s official duties; or

(iii) a firefighter, an emergency medical technician, a rescue squad member, or any other first responder engaged in providing emergency medical care or rescue services.

(3) A person who violates paragraph (2) of this subsection is guilty of the felony of assault in the second degree and on conviction is subject to imprisonment not exceeding 10 years or a fine not exceeding $ 5,000 or both.

3-204. Reckless endangerment

(a) Prohibited. — A person may not recklessly:

(1) engage in conduct that creates a substantial risk of death or serious physical injury to another; or

(2) discharge a firearm from a motor vehicle in a manner that creates a substantial risk of death or serious physical injury to another.

(b) Penalty. — A person who violates this section is guilty of the misdemeanor of reckless endangerment and on conviction is subject to imprisonment not exceeding 5 years or a fine not exceeding $ 5,000 or both.

(c) Exceptions. —

(1) Subsection (a)(1) of this section does not apply to conduct involving:

(i) the use of a motor vehicle, as defined in § 11-135 of the Transportation Article; or

(ii) the manufacture, production, or sale of a product or commodity.

(2) Subsection (a)(2) of this section does not apply to:

(i) a law enforcement officer or security guard in the performance of an official duty; or

(ii) an individual acting in defense of a crime of violence as defined in § 5-101 of the Public Safety Article.

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