The first question most people ask themselves when reading all the benefits of Nootropics is “How can a supplement that can potentially alter my brain be legal?” and that is a great question. A complicated one but a great one.
Keep in mind that “Nootropics” themselves have to be considered safe for humans, have minimal side effects, be non-toxic and non-addictive in order to be considered a Nootropic.
The meaning of “smart drugs” that tend to be clumped together as Nootropics, is the main reason for all the confusion and they are a totally different story.
Almost all smart drugs are not Nootropics and are mostly prescriptive drugs such as Adderall, Ritalin and Modafinil.
These are stimulants that are used to treat medical conditions such as ADHD. If you order these online, there is a risk that they will be seized at customs. I’m going to leave the laws on smart drugs out to keep it simple.
Nootropics range from synthetic supplements (drugs made in a lab) to natural supplements that are made from either minerals, herbs, plant extracts or vitamins (Natural Nootropics or in legal terms Dietary Supplements).
Nootropics in general, don’t require a prescription. However the laws depend on which country you live in with regards to synthetic Nootropics. Some of these can be prescriptive drugs in some countries and used for treatment of disorders or diseases.
In general, most Nootropics you will encounter daily are legal to buy and use. The exceptions will be listed below country by country. The stricter rules mostly apply to the marketing, selling and importation of Nootropics from retailers and suppliers.
What most people don’t know is that there are more than a hundred different Nootropics made from different compounds and substances or what are considered “nootropics” such as caffeine and tobacco. It’s good to note right here that most Nootropics are considered safer than caffeine.
Nootropics fall under seven different categories and they may have different regulations depending on the country.
Where some countries banned only certain Nootropics, others approve them without a prescription and can be bought and used legally only in limited quantities.
It’s a big pool, over many countries with many different Nootropics. Safety measures are definitely a good thing because they protect us from potentially taking supplements that can be harmful to our health.
However, having a large number of Nootropics available where a few have different regulations can become confusing to consumers who may overlook most Nootropics that are very brain healthy and beneficial.
The General Rules on Nootropics
Nootropics were introduced as research compounds and therefore they can’t be marketed the same way as other supplements can be.
What does that mean for you? In some cases, you won’t find certain Nootropics sold online by major marketplaces due to the marketing constraints but you can buy them legally for personal use, depending on the countrys’ laws you live in.
The majority of Nootropics fall under natural Nootropics. Their functions are to improve and/or enhance short term cognitive functions and to protect the brain from long term risk.
They are not used to treat mental disorders (although promising research is ongoing).
Only physicians can recommend or prescribe medications for these disorders. Drugs that are prescribed are called controlled substances under Federal or State laws.
Nootropics Legal Vs Regulated
Under government law, the general guideline for a Nootropic is whether it is considered a drug or a dietary supplement and that determines it’s legal status or regulation.
Most Nootropics are natural so they are considered safe until they are proven not safe and are fully legal.
Synthetic Nootropic drugs are the opposite, they are guilty until they are proven safe. However, all controlled substances (prescriptive) or what are considered drugs, are ranked under 5 groups called “schedules” based on their risk of potential abuse or ability to cause dependency.
The legality of Nootropic drugs lay in whether they are listed under a schedule or considered a controlled substance. They are not scheduled so they are not controlled in the USA.
Popular Nootropics such as Piracetam, Oxiracetam, Adrafinil, Phenibut, Noopept, Aniracetam, Alpha GPC and CDP Choline and mostly all others Nootropics are legal to possess and use.
So Yes, in the USA most of them are legal to buy and use, however Nootropics are not recognized as an official class of drugs by the FDA (Food and Drug Administration). Which means they are not approved by these regulatory agencies. In order to be approved, they need to undergo a regulator process.
Nootropics Around the World
In the USA, as already discussed, almost all Nootropics are legal to buy, possess and use in any amount providing you are buying them within the USA. If you are imported them from overseas, you could have a problem with customs.
In Canada, you are free to buy, possess and use Racetams legally but they have to be purchased from the USA, via websites or they can be ordered from overseas but in both cases, the quantities have to be considered for personal use only. That means a 3 months supply or less at a time. Keep in mind again, that if you are ordering from overseas, customs does have the right to seize them. They are not allowed to be imported for redistribution or commercial purposes. They don’t have a DIN number (Drug Identification Number) from Health Canada so they can’t be sold within Canada.
In Australia, Racetams aren’t sold because they don’t pass regulatory coding. It is also illegal to import Piracetam or Adrafinil which require a prescription. However, you can legally import similar popular Nootropics such as Racetams, Aniracetam or Pramiracetam for personal limited use. This would be a 3 month supply or less.
In the UK, Piracetam is a prescribed drug, however, consumers can buy, import and use most other Racetams such as; Oxiracetam, Aniracetam, Noopept and Pramiracetam for personal use only, a 3 month supply or less without a prescription. Racetams can’t be imported for redistribution or commercial use.
Exceptions and Things to Know about certain Nootropics or Smartdrugs
Modafinil is a scheduled IV drug. Which means, it is by prescription only and can’t be imported.
Phenylpiracetam, although legal for personal use to buy online and use, has been banned in the Olympics due to the powerful advantage it gives professional athletes. Adrafinil and Modafinil are also banned. If you play professional sports, it would be advised to check whether the substance is banned before using it.
If you are ordering prescriptive drugs online from foreign sources, you may be taking a risk that they will be seized at customs. Some of these Smartdrugs are very potent and potentially dangerous to your health and you might not be able to determine the quality of foreign sources.
Please note that these laws apply now. The laws can always change in the future and we will do our best to update the information but it’s a good idea to check the current status moving forward.
These are general guidelines as to the laws of Nootropics based on our research. If anything needs to be corrected, please leave a comment below and let us know. All comments are always appreciated.