Pepper spray is entirely legal for civilian carry in the state of Michigan with just a couple of restrictions, most specifically the capacity and contents of the canister. Minors are not allowed to purchase pepper spray in Michigan, though there are no other restrictions on common commercial sales.
For the self-defense minded, pepper spray is an excellent tool, one of the very few less-lethal defensive options that affords the user some standoff capability while also providing good effectiveness, capable of knocking the “fight” right out of an attacker.
That being said, the deployment of pepper spray is no joke, and it is still considered a weapon in many areas, including Michigan, so you need to know exactly what the law says you can and cannot do when it comes to the ownership and its use.
In this article we will provide you with a summary of Michigan’s pepper spray laws and also include the exact text of the state statute so that you can read and understand it in its entirety.
- Michigan restricts “self-defense spray or foam devices” to carrying one of the following:
- Not more than 35 grams (appx. 1.2 oz.) of any combination of CS tear gas and inert ingredients.
- A solution containing not more than 18% O.C. solution.
- A solution containing an ultraviolet dye and not more than 18% O.C. solution.
- Any self-defense spray the combine’s more than one feature set from the above list is not technically a self-defense spray, and is illegal.
- Only O.C. sprays or foams specifically have a self-defense exemption written into the statutes!
- Self-defense spray cannot be sold to minors in the state of Michigan.
Michigan state law governing self-defense sprays is interesting because it has a sort of list of prohibited features: A legal self-defense spray may contain one of the feature-set described on this list, and not more than one.
The law goes on to specify that a self-defense spray or other device may not release or project any other gas or substance capable of temporarily or permanently disabling or injuring a person contacted by it.
That list of features specifies the following: 1) The device contains not more than 35 grams, or approximately 1.2 ounces, of any combination of orthochlorobenzalmalononitrile and inert ingredients, this chemical commonly being known as tear gas. 2), The solution may not contain anything stronger than 18% O.C. concentration, O.C. being shorthand for the scientific name of pepper sprays active ingredient. 3), a solution containing both an ultraviolet die and not more than 18% O.C. concentration.
That is it. A legal self-defense spray in the state of Michigan will fall into one of those three categories, and exactly one of those three categories.
You cannot have a 25 oz. canister containing both Cs and OC solution, that would be illegal. You cannot have a 2 oz. canister of CS, that would be illegal.
A 20% concentration of O.C. spray in a 1.2 oz. container, illegal. Legal self-defense sprays, and that includes pepper sprays of all kinds, must conform to one of the feature sets from the list above.
Happily, the Michigan State statutes specifically spell out that the reasonable employment of any O.C. spray (that is otherwise legal) by a person who uses it in protection of themselves, someone else or property in circumstances that would otherwise justify the use of physical force is not a crime.
Pay close attention to the verbiage of the statute included below; any self-defense spray that contains CS is not specifically exempted!
Other than that, there are no major surprises in the state of Michigan, save that it is illegal to sell a self-defense spray to a minor.
The statute that we will share below makes no mention that possession of pepper spray by someone who is a minor is illegal, only that it is illegal for a merchant to sell it to them.
Michigan is generally a friendly state when it comes to civilian use and ownership of proper pepper sprays, as they have a specific exemption regarding self-defense usage written into the state statute. CS gas sprays are classified as self-defense sprays, but lack the self-defense exemption.
Whether or not this is an oversight or other fault of the lawmakers is irrelevant; that is what the law says, and you should abide by it. Make sure you choose an O.C. spray for self-defense in the state of Michigan, and one that abides by all of the other regulations governing such devices.
Relevant State Statutes
750.224d Self-defense spray or foam device.
(1) As used in this section and section 224, “self-defense spray or foam device” means a device to which all of the following apply:
(a) The device is capable of carrying, and ejects, releases, or emits 1 of the following:
(i) Not more than 35 grams of any combination of orthochlorobenzalmalononitrile and inert ingredients.
(ii) A solution containing not more than 18% oleoresin capsicum.
(iii) A solution containing an ultraviolet dye and not more than 18% oleoresin capsicum.
(b) The device does not eject, release, or emit any gas or substance that will temporarily or permanently disable, incapacitate, injure, or harm a person with whom the gas or substance comes in contact, other than the substance described in subdivision (a)(i), (ii), or (iii).
(2) Except as otherwise provided in this section, a person who uses a self-defense spray or foam device to eject, release, or emit orthochlorobenzalmalononitrile or oleoresin capsicum at another person is guilty of a misdemeanor, punishable by imprisonment for not more than 2 years, or a fine of not more than $2,000.00, or both.
(3) If a person uses a self-defense spray or foam device during the commission of a crime to eject, release, or emit orthochlorobenzalmalononitrile or oleoresin capsicum or threatens to use a self-defense spray or foam device during the commission of a crime to temporarily or permanently disable another person, the judge who imposes sentence upon a conviction for that crime shall consider the defendant’s use or threatened use of the self-defense spray or foam device as a reason for enhancing the sentence.
(4) A person shall not sell a self-defense spray or foam device to a minor. A person who violates this subsection is guilty of a misdemeanor punishable by imprisonment for not more than 90 days or a fine of not more than $500.00, or both.
(5) Subsection (2) does not prohibit either of the following:
(a) The reasonable use of a self-defense spray or foam device containing not more than 18% oleoresin capsicum by a person who is employed by a county sheriff or a chief of police and who is authorized in writing by the county sheriff or chief of police to carry and use a self-defense spray or foam device and has been trained in the use, effects, and risks of the device, while in performance of his or her official duties.
(b) The reasonable use of either of the following by a person in the protection of a person or property under circumstances that would justify the person’s use of physical force:
(i) A self-defense spray or foam device containing not more than 18% oleoresin capsicum.
(ii) A self-defense spray or foam device containing an ultraviolet dye and not more than 18% oleoresin capsicum.
Tom Marlowe practically grew up with a gun in his hand, and has held all kinds of jobs in the gun industry: range safety, sales, instruction and consulting, Tom has the experience to help civilian shooters figure out what will work best for them.