Are steroids legal or illegal?
It’s not as stupid a question as it may sound.
Laws vary from state to state and country to country.
Some places where they are illegal do not strictly enforce it. Some other places enforce steroid prohibition laws as stringently as if it were crack cocaine.
But there’s more to the topic than simple legality or illegality. Not many people are doing time in prison for using anabolic, or any other kind of, steroids.
Being caught with the intention to sell (or while in possession of a sufficient amount so as for an intention to sell charge to stick) comes with much stiffer penalties.
Being caught with a personal sized dose for personal use (even though steroids are illegal for personal use as well) is not as bad. Buy legal steroids online here.
Table of Contents
In general without a prescription, it is illegal to purchase steroids in the US.
This article focuses primarily on laws governing the use and possession of steroids in the US.
The laws in other countries will also be overviewed. We do this both because the laws in the US are so complex, and also to show that there is significant variance in how different countries treat anabolic steroids.
Arguably, it isn’t the illegality of steroids that most people who use it are primarily concerned about.
Most such people are not known criminals, do not have much of a criminal record- and are not likely to be picked up for possessing or using steroids unless they are behaving foolishly.
What most people who use these substances are concerned about is not legality so much as prohibitions and testing schedules within the sporting league for which they are taking these drugs.
For it is within the world of professional sports where the most meaningful penalties exist for those who use steroids.
People in body building, either fortunately or unfortunately (depending on your point of view) quite frequently are forced to use performance enhancing substances in order to be competitive- especially if they are bodybuilding professionally.
The same is true in many sports in which strength, speed, and lean mass are prerequisites to being competitive.
The simple fact that if you eliminated all of the people using steroids from pro sports would eviscerate the industry means there are a lot of folks skirting the laws and regulations of their sporting organizations.
The result is there are a lot of people asking questions about the legality or illegality of steroids. Many of them know the answer to their questions and are just hoping to hear what they want to hear.
For those who are asking from a genuine need to know, here are answers to some of the most common questions about the legality and illegality of steroids.
Unfortunately, the laws and the ways they are enforced range broadly from one place to another. So within the space available, we are just going to discuss generalities.
So proceed, knowing that you will have to research the local regulation on steroids in the area where you live.
No matter where you live, sports nutrition stores like GNC can legally sell dietary supplements that can naturally boost testosterone levels instead of you taking synthetic testosterone or other performance enhancing drugs.
They also have HGH releasers instead of human growth hormone injections.
Some online shops have alternatives to all the major steroids including Anadrol, Anavar, Dianabol, Deca Durabolin, Primobolan, Trenbolone, Winstrol and Testosterone.
Steroid laws in the following countries are considered to be relatively lax. These countries may allow you to purchase certain legal anabolic androgenic steroids for bodybuilding without a prescription:
If you are charged with a steroids related crime, there are steroid lawyers like Rick Collins in New York who can help you get out of trouble.
Laws in the UK are not at all straightforward, and there are sharp disagreements among the various stakeholders representing this issue.
Anabolic steroids are currently labeled a class C scheduled drug.
You can own and import anabolic steroids as long as you don’t plan to sell them within the UK.
Personal use seems to be sanctioned under the law, though opponents of these drugs might interpret this differently.
But from the government’s standpoint, no, steroids are not illegal in the UK. However, there have been attempts to ban the online import of these drugs, with a famous attempt occurring in 2010.
Buying steroids without a prescription within the UK is also prohibited, and that leaves only underground laboratories selling these steroids on the black market.
That, or traveling to an overseas supplier and bringing them back with you.
Similar to the UK and the US, laws exist against using steroids in South Africa without a prescription.
Certain drugs, like Clenbuterol, are banned outright. It is impossible to get a prescription for Clen in South Africa.
Like other places around the world, unregulated laboratories are the main route bodybuilders take to exploit the power of steroids in their workout routines.
Australian law may be second only to the US in strict control laws.
The Australia Poisons and Drugs Act Amendment of 1994 criminalizes non-prescription use or possession of anabolic steroids.
Violation of this law carries a possible six months in prison and possible $5000 fine.
Canadian law is similar to the law in England.
Anabolic steroids are listed as Schedule IV drugs and possession for personal use is allowed.
Under Canadian steroid possession law, trafficking of anabolic steroids is a felony with penalties much lighter than those in the US.
In Canada, penalties for trafficking anabolic steroids ranges from $1000 fine and/or six months in prison for first offense to $2000 find and/or one year in prison for subsequent offenses.
Laws regarding anabolic steroids are considered to be a world apart from laws regarding other controlled substances and pharmaceutical products.
It is interesting to note that laws against possessing and using anabolic steroids are almost strictly an American concept, virtually unheard of in many other countries.
In fact, many countries have no laws regarding possession or use of anabolic steroids. Many other countries have laws that are quite lax regarding use and possession.
In the United Kingdom and Canada, as mentioned, these compounds are legal for personal use, though trafficking is outlawed.
Only in the US are anabolic steroids so strictly controlled. Indeed, the US has reportedly attempted to pressure other countries to follow suit, though most countries have resisted this pressure.
The US passed the Anabolic Steroid Control Act in 1990. It wasn’t until six years later that Canada began to treat anabolic steroids as controlled substances.
We find it interesting that, even in countries with lax laws or no laws regarding anabolic steroid use, anabolic steroid is not nearly as widespread as what is seen in the US.
It would seem that prohibition only served to drive anabolic steroids underground and actually increased problems of use.
The first chemical Testosterone variations were developed during the 1950s, and the first anabolic steroids hit the open market in the 1960s.
The black market for anabolic steroids during this period was almost nonexistent, as most users could obtain them through doctors or pharmacists.
Until the 1980s, these compounds were available by prescription, much as any other prescription medication available today. At that time, there were no laws regulating anabolic steroids and doctors could prescribe them as they saw fit.
At that time, steroids were so readily available through legitimate pharmacies that underground labs, while they did exist, were so few in number as to be virtually unheard of.
These dealers would obtain pharmaceutical grade compounds from pharmacies in large quantities and resell them in gyms and other locations, and did so largely without fear of penalties.
When penalties were incurred by dealers, they generally amounted to little more than a small fine.
While anabolic steroids could be acquired outside of a doctor’s office or pharmacy, most users preferred to obtain them from pharmacies where they could be assured that the product they were getting was pure and sterile.
Towards the end of the 1980s, however, things began to change.
Mounting public anxiety over steroids began to grow as media increased coverage, though this coverage, in the beginning, was limited to competitive, professional sporting events.
However, as concern began to grow, media attention shifted to anabolic steroid use in high school boys.
After a couple of years, a Canadian athlete named Ben Johnson who competed in the Olympics was found to have used Winstrol in 1988. After this, anabolic steroids received a bad reputation in the public’s eyes.
Congress passed the Anabolic Steroid Control Act in 1990. With this bill, anabolic androgenic steroids were added to the list of Schedule III controlled substances.
Congress than passed new laws surrounding anabolic steroid use in 2004.
The main change introduced with this new law was outlawing all new-fangled designer steroids and anabolic drugs that could be sold by virtue of not being on the 1990 list.
Newly developed steroids and prohormones were categorized as Schedule III controlled substances.
As a result, these newly added substances were pulled from store shelves and use, possession, and distribution were criminalized.
Congress defined an anabolic androgenic steroid as “any drug or hormonal substance, chemically and pharmacologically related to testosterone (other than estrogens, progestins, corticosteroids and dehydroepiandrosterone).”
This change opened the door to a greater level of regulation over substances used to enhance performance, rather than limiting such control to substances that are anabolic in nature.
Before the change, the DEA announced they were stepping up enforcement and Deputy Administrator Michele Leonhart affirmed that steroid abuse and trafficking was the focus.
White House Office of National Drug Control Policy also reinforced the prioritization of addressing the steroids trafficking.
As discussed, the USA has anabolic steroids listed as Schedule III drugs under the Controlled Substances Act.
This was done pursuant to the Anabolic Steroid Control Act of 1990. This law makes it a criminal offense to use or possess anabolic steroids without a valid prescription for specific medical purposes.
Doctors caught prescribing anabolic steroids for other than legitimate medical purposes can also be held criminally liable.
The penalty for possession is a minimum one year in jail and $1000 fine.
Distributing or possession with intent to distribute is punishable by five years in prison and a stiff $250,000.
These penalties are for first offenses. For subsequent offenses, these penalties double. In addition, many states have passed their own laws regarding anabolic steroids. Some of these state laws are even harsher than the federal laws.
After the passage of the original Anabolic Steroid Control Act of 1990, the US Sentencing Commission developed the first federal standards for sentencing under the new law.
In doing so, the Commission noted that steroids were distinctly different from narcotics and other Schedule III drugs because of the sheer number of different types of anabolic steroids that existed.
They defined a unit of steroids as either a 10ml vial of injectable steroid or 50 oral tablets. Vials of injectable steroids that were larger than 10ml were to be reduced to single units. Therefore, a vial of 30ml was considered to be three units.
The new Anabolic Steroid Control Act of 2004 updated these guidelines. Not only was the meaning of an anabolic steroid changed to become more broad, but penalties became much harsher.
The new Act instructed the Sentencing Commission to raise penalties. The Commission amended the guidelines on April 5, 2004, and the new guidelines became effective March 27, 2006.
Under the new guidelines, there was no distinction between steroids and other Schedule III controlled substances.
Instead of 50 tablets or 10ml vial of injectable steroids, a unit became a single tablet or 0.5ml vial. A unit of other forms of anabolic steroid, such as powders or transdermal patches became 25mg.
As the Anabolic Steroid Control Act of 2004 increased penalties and changed definitions, it unsurprisingly led to a drastic increase in the number of investigations and prosecutions related to steroids.
Many people are interested in California steroid laws because of the aura surrounding Muscle Beach and the history of steroid use there.
Before the 1990 and 2004 Federal laws came into being, laws became enacted at the state level.
Some states passed laws that banned and, in some cases, even criminalized the use of steroids for non-prescription use.
California was one of the first, having enacted such laws well before federal bans were put into place.
With the arrival of federal legislation regarding anabolic steroids, some states also passed their own laws, many of which are stricter than their federal counterparts.
In some states, steroid use in healthy patients for any type of athletic performance enhancement is an invalid use and can lead to criminal charges against prescribing doctors.
Many states have also passed laws banning such substances as Human Chorionic Gonadotropin (HCG) and other performance enhancing substances that are not anabolic steroids. States banning these substances include:
As of 2013, every state has reserved the right to amend their laws regarding anabolic steroids and other substances deemed to be dangerous.
Nearly every state has federal laws classifying these compounds as Schedule III drugs.
However, some states have rated anabolic steroids as even worse than narcotics, classifying them on a level with such drugs as cocaine, methadone, opiates, and phencyclidine (PCP).
For this reason, it is recommended that American users to be aware of the laws of their state, as penalties at the state level are, in some states like New York, harsher than federal penalties.
As of 2013, a few states, particularly Alaska and Vermont, do not list these drugs as scheduled substances under state law.
However, users should not make the mistake of believing anabolic steroid use is lawful in these states, as federal law supersedes state law in these cases.
Each state is free to define performance enhancing drugs, and definitions can include nonsteroidal substances, leading to the criminalization of substances that may be legal in other states.
There are also cases of discrepancies between federal and state laws that make it apparent that legislators do not understand the sciences behind anabolic steroids, nor have they sought assistance of experts.
Connecticut, for example, lists Dihydrotestosterone (DHT) as Stanolone, and lists Dianabol as both Methandienone and Methandrostenolone.
Laws regarding growth hormones may well be even more confusing.
In Rhode Island, Human Growth Hormone (HGH) is listed under the very schedule that anabolic steroids are listed under, while Pennsylvania specifically excludes HGH from being listed as steroid.
Curiously, in Delaware the law equates HGH and HCG as synonymous.
If keeping track of what substances are prohibited in a given state is difficult, try keeping track of penalties. In many states, possession for personal use is a misdemeanor.
Possession with intent to distribute is a felony, but the line between personal use and possession with intent varies widely.
In Ohio, intent to distribute is defined as possessing more than 200 tablets or 16ml of liquid. In North Carolina, the limit is 100 tablets, while Hawaii limits personal use to 25 tablets.
In Alabama, there are no distinctions. Unless the user has a legal prescription, they could face up to ten years in prison regardless of the amount they are carrying.
While not a federally controlled substance, HGH was included in the Steroid Trafficking Act of 1990.
Trafficking in HGH is without a valid license or prescription is a criminal offense punishable by a maximum 5 years in prison. If HGH is sold to anyone under the age of 18, the maximum sentence doubles to 10 years.
In Colorado, Idaho, and Illinois, only unlicensed trafficking is considered a felony. In West Virginia, Rhode Island, Minnesota, and Oregon, use or possession without a prescription are also criminal offenses.
Federal law allows prescriptions to be written and filled for valid medical applications, which is defined as treating disease symptoms that can include general aging.
Steroid use other than to treat symptoms of disease or aging is considered invalid and can result in criminal prosecution.
The law does not recognize performance or physique enhancement as falling under legitimate medical use.
Because of this, anyone interested in using HGH, testosterone, or any other anabolic steroid to enhance athletic performance will be unable to procure the product from a legitimate pharmacy and will be forced to look for them in the underground market.
Generally speaking, the answer to this question is YES.
The use of steroids is prohibited by nearly all if not truly all sporting communities by their controlling bodies.
Most, if not all, professional and competitive bodybuilders are subject to regular testing. They will be subjected to harsh sanctions if they are caught. Usually, they will be stripped of titles and lose some considerable amount of prestige.
Loss of prestige may be somewhat less of a concern for bodybuilders, as it is almost a given, (except among the naïve) that most people must take these drugs in order to be competitive outside of special niche circles.
Technically speaking, the answer to the question of whether steroids are illegal in the military is yes- very much so.
Practically speaking- as a former member of the armed forces- I can tell you that it depends.
It depends on who you are, who you know and how valuable you are to your command.
If you’re an E1-E5 and don’t suck up regularly to your officers, you might be in trouble.
If you’re a Navy Seal in a high performing unit- you’re practically above the law- that is as long as you aren’t breaking equipment during downtime or divulging troop movements to ISIS.
Finally, there’s a little secret the military won’t tell you. When they take drug test samples from a population they do not test them all.
They only test a random sample that they have deemed sufficient to be able to say they are doing their due diligence. Does that mean it’s safe to take drugs if you’re in the military? No way. But it’s not as risky as people are lead to believe.
Ultimately, many suggest that the laws prohibiting steroids have not accomplished the goals that prompted them.
While the laws were originally created to stop the use of steroids by athletes trying to cheat, this really was not as large of a problem as it was portrayed in the media.
In a study published in JAMA (the Journal of the American Medical Association) in 1993, researchers analyzed the results of 20 years-worth of studies.
What they found was that average steroid users were heterosexual, middle class men between the ages of 25 and 35.
These users were not professional or competitive athletes. Many were simply using steroids for cosmetic purposes.
Another study, this one conducted in 2007, found that nearly 3/4 of all those who used steroids for non-prescription applications had earned degrees from colleges or universities and were far less likely to have dropped out of high school than most would expect from PED users.
This study also found that anabolic steroid users were more likely to be employed and enjoyed a higher-than average household income.
These studies and others like them just go to show that steroid use is not rampant among athletes or minors, rather that users are citizens who pay their taxes, are educated and otherwise obey the law.
While there are those professional athletes who have been caught using steroids against regulations, users are more likely to be interested in improving their workouts than cheating.
With this in mind, it is also important to realize that most courts, both at the state and federal levels, view drug trafficking far more harshly than use without an intent to profit, and reflect this with harsher sentencing for traffickers.
But very low limits set by Congress and the US Sentencing Commission makes it virtually impossible to possess anabolic steroids as a personal user.
Because of the relatively low amounts that are considered “large quantities”, personal users can be treated like dealers based solely on the amount possessed, with no other proof of intent to distribute.
Many cases have been filed against individuals possessing under 100 tablets or very small vials.
It is also important to note that steroids are a completely separate kind of substance compared with most other controlled substances.
Steroids are hormones, much like those produced by the body. They are used for a different purpose than most other controlled substances, and used in ways completely unique and unlike other substances.
To illustrate the difference, let’s look at narcotics like cocaine or heroine, which are generally classified in the same way as anabolic steroids.
Most narcotics users only buy the drugs in small amounts, enough for the desired high, not enough to use over a period of time in the same way a steroid user might purchase for use in a cycle.
In the case of narcotics, most individuals engaging in personal use will only have enough for a dose or two, while those possessing more than that are likely to be distributing the drug.
Anabolic steroid users operate in a much different way. Most anabolic steroid users research the compounds they intend to use and organize a full cycle in advance.
Where narcotics produce an immediate high, anabolic steroids produce their effects gradually, so performance users will generally buy a full cycle’s worth.
The steroids are then used in precise doses at very regular intervals, rather than using as much as needed to get high sporadically.
A cycle may be as little as four weeks for very strong anabolic steroids or beginning users, to as long as twelve weeks or longer for milder steroids or heavier users.
Many anabolic steroids taken orally are available in different dose tablets. Dianabol, for example, is available in the form of 10mg tablets or 50mg tablets.
A user planning to use 50mg per day for six weeks would need 42 tablets to get through the cycle, but if the only tablets available are 10mg, the same user needs 210 tablets, more than the limit for personal use in almost every state.
Though both scenarios involve exactly the same amount of product, one might be treated as a personal user, while the other would likely be treated as a serious drug trafficker.
Let’s take a look at the goals of United States steroid laws and whether the laws have succeeded or failed at achieving these goals.
Protecting teens and children: This goal has not been met.
According to the 1993 meta study mentioned earlier, though there has been some use of anabolic steroids among high school athletes, use in this age group was not prevalent, nor has the rate of use in this age group changed much over time.
Not only this, but public campaigning against PEDs and coverage of professional athletes caught using them has only served to increase the interest in this age group who seek to emulate their heroes.
Ending cheating by professional athletes: This goal has been unsuccessful.
The laws prohibiting anabolic steroid use did not actually target professional athletes.
As a result, the use of performance enhancing drugs among professional athletes has, if media coverage is any indication, actually increased over this time period.
Every year, the number of athletes testing positive for performance enhancing drugs has reportedly increased.
Statistical data indicates that the majority of steroid use is in adult non-athletes. It is these users that have been targeted by these laws and their enforcement.
Each sport has its own governing bodies responsible for establishing and enforcing the rules of the sport. Regulating anabolic steroid use among professional athletes should be the responsibility of these governing bodies.
Eliminating the black market for anabolic steroids: History has shown that any type of prohibition causes a dramatic increase the black market for the prohibited product, and anabolic steroids are no different.
Before the passage of laws banning anabolic steroids, the black market for these substances was almost nonexistent.
Today, an estimated 80% or more of anabolic steroids in use are purchased on the black market.
Before these laws, most steroids were manufactured in and sold by legitimate pharmacies with strict quality controls.
Today, much of the anabolic steroid supply is manufactured in underground labs, much of them in foreign countries, with little or no consumer protections.
This makes it impossible for a user to be sure the product they are using is pure, and increases the risk of bodily harm associated with using steroids.
If these laws have not achieved their intended goals, what have they accomplished?
First, doctors and other medical professionals are so concerned about liability that they are afraid to prescribe anabolic steroids even for legitimate purposes. As a result, many medical experts are uneducated on their use.
Second, the laws have shut down any potential research in the US.
Every day people suffer with disabilities and die from diseases that could be treated by anabolic steroids, but media coverage on the issue has so stigmatized the drugs that companies stopped researching them after the first laws were passed in 1990.
Finally, the laws have managed to destroy the lives of many otherwise law-abiding adults who were not competitive athletes.
Are Steroids Illegal Outside of Sports?
Illegal steroids are still illegal outside of sports. So, yes.
Are steroids legal to possess?
Wherever steroids are prohibited by law, they are illegal to possess. The difference where they are illegal is generally about how much the person has in their possession.
Large amounts can win you a charge of intent to sell. That is usually bad news. In many places, only having enough for personal use is illegal, but may not be a priority for law enforcement there.
Are Steroids Illegal in the NFL?
No. They are prohibited. Organizations do not write laws, so it is not up to them as to whether or not steroids are illegal. They are, however, prohibited.
Players caught using steroids can be subjected to all kinds of professional sanctions from complete ejection to monetary fines, being stripped of a title or all of the above.
Are Steroids Illegal in Baseball?
The answer to this is the same as with the NFL. The one added stipulation has to do with your level of play. If you’re playing in a small time local league, it may never matter.
Unless you are displaying ‘roid rage’ in public places. If you’re in the Major League, ask yourself this question: have you ever heard of Sammy Sosa and Mark Mcguire?
Are Steroids Illegal in Crossfit?
This is an increasingly common question as Crossfit continues to gain popularity, and at this point the answer should be obvious. It is illegal, and it is almost certainly prohibited by sports leagues.
If you are a professional athlete, you use or are considering using steroids and are asking these questions- the main message here is you can assume that what you’re doing is not legal and it is prohibited by the sporting league you play in.
So, either stop, find an alternative, or at very least- quit fooling yourself and find out for certain the big question of are steroids legal.Are Steroids Bad for YouAre Steroids LegalAre Steroids SafeAre Steroids Worth ItHow Do Steroids WorkHow Fast Do Steroids WorkHow Long Steroid CycleHow Much Are SteroidsHow to Make SteroidsHow to Take SteroidsHow to Use SteroidsIs Insulin a SteroidShould I Take SteroidsWhat Are SteroidsWhat Are Steroids Made OfWhat Do Steroids DoWhere Do you Get SteroidsWhere to Buy Steroids