Nootropics, like anything else in the world, is often clouded in mystery, confusion, and misinformation-especially when it comes to what they are and their legal status.
Like other topics people want to learn about, there’s a wealth of information online about nootropics, but there’s a lot of conflicting information in regards if nootropics will get you into legal trouble if you want to take them.
Before we get into the legality of these supplements, let’s first talk briefly about what exactly they are and how they work.
Simply put, nootropics can either be a natural substance or man-made. Many people use them to protect and even promote brain health. They have been known to boost a variety of cognitive abilities and protect those abilities against conditions and injuries that could harm them.
These substances have little risk of negative side effects and they are low in toxicity.
When we talk about nootropics, we are talking about a category that includes herbs, minerals, supplements, and vitamins. Prescription and non-prescription drugs can fall under the nootropic category as well.
Because every country has their own specifications and regulations, it’s nearly impossible to classify them all into one grouping.
It is because of this, controlling entities like the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the United Kingdom’s Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), Canada Health, and Australia’s Therapeutic Goods Agency (TGA) do not consider nootropics to be an official drug class.
This means they are not formally approved.
Even still, most of the nootropics you find are legally available all over the globe. This is because most of these supplements are found in nature.
With that said, international law makes selling, importing, and marketing of these supplements a little more challenging. There are some countries where certain substances are banned, while others can be obtained without a prescription.
While there are many nootropics that are easy to obtain and you can do so legally, there are some substances that are regulated as per federal or state law.
So what does this mean? Basically the government, either on a state or federal level, determines whether the substance is “controlled” or “scheduled.”
Controlled Substances: A controlled substance requires a prescription in order to obtain. The distribution and use are closely monitored by the government.
Scheduled Substances: These substances are ranked by the government in accordance to the risk of a person abusing the substance. Schedule 1 drugs are those high risk drugs like LSD, heroin, MDMA. Schedule 5 drugs are low risk drugs like Robitussin AC, Motofen, and Lomotil, for example.
If you live in the US, you’ll be happy to know that there aren’t any restrictions on nootropics and there isn’t any risk of getting into any legal trouble if you use or own any nootropics.
Although you can obtain these substances legally in the country, that doesn’t mean the FDA has approved them or has set regulations in place. So let’s say a nootropic is labeled as a dietary supplement, there isn’t any legal regulations in place so you can take them as you see fit (grated at your own risk).
That doesn’t mean nootropic suppliers can make any claims that state they provide any health benefits. For example, racetams aren’t allowed to be sold for human consumption in the US.
If you want to buy and/or sell racetams like Piracetam, Aniracetam, or Oxiracetam, then you will have to label them as a research compound.
The downside to this is that you cannot put dosage or serving size on the packaging, which makes it difficult for consumers to safely consume the racetams because they don’t know what is a safe amount!
Unfortunately, like most drugs and supplements, nootropic “drugs” are considered to be unsafe for people to consume until they’ve gone through extensive testing and are labeled safe. On the other hand, nootropics that are labeled as “dietary supplements” are safe until proven otherwise.
When it comes to the sports world, there are bans placed on certain nootropic ingredients. These nootropics are psychostimulants and according to the 2015 WADA (World Anti-Doping Agency) athletes are prohibited from taking the following nootropics:
It’s worth noting that these policies may be different from other agencies on a local and national level. The WADA prohibits athletes from taking these supplements during competition, but the NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association) prohibits players from consuming the supplement at all times.
There are some illicit drugs that can be considered to be nootropic in some degree (in some instances, the nootropic classification is very liberal). These drugs include:
Regardless of their clinical or nootropic value, these substances are illegal for a reason. They tend to be highly addictive and they can have some seriously harmful side effects.
Marijuana is being legalized in states across the country, but we still recommend exercise caution because you can still get into trouble if your state hasn’t legalized it yet.
Every now and then, we all need a boost to help us feel more “with it.” When we have foggy brains and can’t concentrate, nootropics can make all the difference in the world.
However, if you’re still nervous them because you don’t know if the one you want to take is legal or not, you can always check with the FDA and your local agency that regulates food and drug.