Is Pepper Spray Legal in Michigan?

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Around 63% of those who responded in a recent survey felt that crime in the Great Lakes State is rising.

So if you live within state lines, it is normal to ask, is pepper spray legal in Michigan?

People widely accept pepper spray products as defense weapons and deterrents against would-be attackers.

That said, it has a very potent active ingredient, so using pepper spray in public should not be taken lightly.

If you want to buy and deploy this defense tool safely, I’ve got your back.

Here is a complete rundown of the pepper spray laws in Michigan.

The quick answer to the question, “Is pepper spray legal in Michigan?” is yes.

Like in other states, anyone aged 18 or older can buy this product in Michigan.

However, just because it’s allowed does not mean you should just purchase and use it without thought or consequence.

The legal details surrounding the use of self-defense spray or foam devices are not as simple as they seem.

It comes with a laundry list of restrictions that help ensure the public’s safety, not just the user.

For instance, a Michigan-legal pepper spray must have no higher than 18% oleoresin capsicum or OC.

This solution can have an ultraviolet dye or not.

Alternatively, it should have no more than 35 grams in total of orthochlorobenzalmalononitrile and inert ingredients.

Note that any combination spray is not allowed, which means you can only have one of the pepper spray’s active ingredients.

Also, all these rules apply to proper pepper sprays that carry and eject or release these substances.

Gas sprays are included in the same classification, but note that they lack the self-defense exemption that OC sprays and foam devices have.

If you encounter an aggressive animal, using an animal defense spray on them is legal under current pepper spray laws in Michigan.

However, it must have a proper label because animal sprays carry a much stronger formulation than those for humans.

As you can see, there are many ways that you can run afoul of Michigan’s laws on pepper sprays.

That said, it has a friendlier stand on this personal protective tool compared to some states.

For instance, you can have it shipped to your address if you live in Michigan.

This is something that you can’t do in the likes of Massachusetts and other states.

How to Use a Self-Defense Spray Properly

At first glance, using pepper spray might appear simple.

However, just like any other self-defense tool, there is a right way of using it.

When deployed correctly, it can be an effective deterrent that could give its user enough time to escape or call for help.

Otherwise, it is useless and maybe even harmful.

To help you understand the correct deployment of pepper spray, I’ve outlined the basic steps in detail.

How to Grip the Pepper Spray

The first thing that you need to know is how to hold the pepper spray bottle properly.

Movies and TV shows often portray people using their index fingers to activate the actuator, palms wrapped lightly around the canister.

It is much like the way you would hold a perfume bottle.

While you would be able to initiate the spray in this manner, it is not the optimal way to grip it.

The first issue is that it will be harder for you to aim the pepper spray.

This is especially problematic if you are in high-stress situations.

Secondly, it would be easier for the attacker to take it away from you and use it on you.

A better way to hold it is to form a fist around the canister and use your thumb to activate it.

This way, the attacker won’t be able to knock it off your hand that easily.

Also, it will allow you to use it as an impact weapon in case your assailant manages to get close.

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Knowing the Dispersal Pattern

Another thing that you need to understand about your pepper spray is how it deploys its content.

How far does the spray go?

What is its dispersal pattern?

How much does it eject?

It is important to know the answers to these questions if you want to maximize your effectiveness when using this tool.

Most brands use the stream pattern, similar to how a water gun works.

If you use this type of pepper spray, you must aim it properly.

Maintaining Easy Access to Pepper Spray

If you decide to carry around a pepper spray, you must keep it in a secure place that only you can access.

More importantly, you should be able to get to it quickly in case you get attacked.

Your pepper spray won’t do you any good if you have it buried in your bag or purse.

Note that an attacker can get close within seconds, so you won’t have enough time to dig around for it.

Understanding Its Limitations

While manufacturers design pepper sprays to give you some level of security, it is not fool-proof.

You need to understand that these devices are not as effective on people under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

That is because it might take a few seconds longer for its effects to kick in.

Another thing that you need to consider is that some people might have enough determination to fight through its effects.

This is especially true for those who have already experienced being hit by pepper spray.

Your best course of action is to keep a backup personal protection tool in case the spray fails.

Aiming and Warning

Make sure you are familiar enough with your pepper spray to know instinctively what direction the nozzle is facing.

You would not want to accidentally spray yourself, which is something that happens more often than you would think.

Next, remember that your primary targets are the eyes and face.

Pepper spray can cause a burning sensation if it comes in contact with the skin.

However, it is not enough to deter an attacker unless you get the face.

Finally, if possible, issue a verbal warning before you use the pepper spray.

Doing this offers several benefits.

First, it will call other people’s attention if you are in a public area.

Next, it will demonstrate that you did your best to avoid a confrontation and had no other choice.

Finally, it will show your attacker that you are willing to defend yourself and are not easy prey.


At this point, you should be reasonably familiar with how your pepper spray works.

If you know its spray pattern or distance and how to grip it, you should be able to use it effectively.

Press the actuator firmly for at least one to two seconds to ensure that you release the maximum amount of spray.


While it is tempting to apprehend an attacker yourself after the pepper spray does its job, you must resist this urge.

Remember that the effects are only temporary, so you only delay the threat, not eliminate it.

The best thing you can do is to use the time to escape and call for help.

Pepper spray is legal in Michigan, but you must take the proper precautions if you want to carry one.

Make sure you are aware of the restrictions and, more importantly, follow them.

These guidelines are meant to keep you and the public safe before, while, and after you use your pepper spray.