Is Pepper Spray Legal in Maryland?

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From the long pristine beaches that span along the Eastern Shore to the breathtaking forested hills of its western counties, Maryland makes a perfect destination for all types of travelers.

The culture, infrastructure, landscape, events, and shopping also contribute to the overall experience.

However, if you’re a solo traveler, it’s a good idea to bring along a device of some sort that can help you get away from an attacker.

A good option would be pepper spray. However, is pepper spray legal in Maryland?

Let’s look at Maryland’s policy on the use and possession of non-lethal weapons to ensure you won’t be breaking any laws.

Crime Rate in Maryland

Maryland is a tourist-friendly state because it ranks low in crime and safety.

In 2022, Maryland matches the national crime rate of 4.0 incidents per 1,000 people.

Even when it comes to property crime, Maryland has a great track record.

The number of property crime incidents has been consistently below the national property crime rate.

Even so, you don’t want to risk your safety. It’s a good practice to learn some self-defense techniques especially if you are traveling alone.

Generally, yes, but should only be used for personal protection.

Under Maryland law, pepper spray is considered a dangerous weapon, along with brass knuckles, tear gas, nunchucks, and throwing stars.

So technically, anyone is prohibited from possessing pepper spray.

According to the local policies, a person may not wear or carry a dangerous weapon like pepper spray openly with the intent of injuring an individual unlawfully.

That said, only the following people are allowed to carry prohibited weapons are:

  • Officers of the state or any county, municipal corporation, or school resource officer
  • A special agent for a railroad

The only instance an individual can use pepper spray is when there’s an anticipated threat to their safety.

Still, even if you use it as a form of self-defense, a law enforcement officer, prosecutor, or judge will decide whether you had a good reason for carrying or using pepper spray.

The stringent laws on personal protection weapons in Maryland came about from serious charges of pepper spray and mace misuse in schools in Baltimore.

In 2018, many students in Southwest Academy were treated for personal injuries after someone sprayed a pepper spray in a cafeteria.

With the potential danger it can cause, young people below 18 years are prohibited from carrying pepper spray.

How About Tasers?

In Maryland, most people can possess tasers or stun guns, although these weapons are restricted in some cities.

In Baltimore, tasers and stun guns were previously prohibited, but in 2017, the law was repealed after a federal lawsuit challenged the ban’s legality.

Currently, only the following are banned from possessing tasers or stun guns:

  • Those who are considered to pose an unacceptable risk to public safety
  • Those with restraining orders from domestic violence
  • People treated for mental illness
  • Baltimore also prohibits tasers and stun guns in schools and certain public buildings.

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Is Pepper Spray Effective?

Pepper spray is widely used in the U.S. and touted as an effective self-defense device.

According to research, pepper spray was effective 85 percent of the time.

It also has several advantages, including:


Pepper sprays have been designed to be carried easily in your handbag or even your pocket.

Some pepper sprays come in a keychain style which makes them a lot easier to use.

It is also very easy to conceal.

Easy to Use

Pepper spray is relatively easy to use. After a few tries or practice, you can be confident with using pepper spray.

Widely Available

Pepper is easily available for purchase.

You can purchase it from stores like Target and Walmart or online.


Pepper spray is a non-lethal weapon, and it doesn’t have long-lasting effects.

Thus, it can end an attack without the use of violent force.

What Are the Disadvantages of Pepper Spray?

Pepper spray doesn’t work on everyone.

There are people, such as those under the influence of drugs, who have a high tolerance to pain that they are less likely to feel the effects of pepper spray.

Also, it can be difficult to deploy pepper spray in stressful and violent situations.

Thus, it’s important to practice how you will use it.

If used incorrectly, you may end up blasting the spray on yourself.

Moreover, you cannot use it indoors because the aerosols may contaminate the environment and expose other people to the effects of pepper spray.

Can You Ship Pepper Spray to Maryland?

While pepper spray is generally allowed in Maryland, buying it can sometimes be a challenge.

Fortunately, Maryland allows shipping of pepper spray via USPS ground service.

If you’re flying to Maryland, you should put your pepper spray in your checked bag.

Also, check with the airlines concerning the amount of pepper spray or mace you can carry, as the TSA has put restrictions on how much you can carry.

How Can You Effectively Use Pepper Spray?

Practice is the best pepper spray technique.

Make sure you practice a few times on how you will carry your pepper spray canister.

Practice drawing the device, and make sure you draw pepper spray quickly from where you’re keeping it.

Also, your device should be accessible. Consider placing it in your pants’ pockets instead of your bag.

Some pepper sprays have clips so you can tuck them into your pocket securely.

You will also find pepper sprays with a key ring that can be attached to car keys for easy access.

Always Have a Self-Defense Tool

Is pepper spray legal in Maryland? Yes, it is.

It’s always a good idea to have a tool that can help you protect yourself against an attacker, especially if you are alone.

However, individuals are allowed to carry pepper spray only as a means of self-dense.

Even so, law enforcers may still conduct investigations to determine whether someone has a good reason to use pepper spray in a particular situation.

Moreover, they will investigate whether excessive force has been applied against the attacker.

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