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Despite the rise in popularity of nootropics in recent years, a common question among many still remains are nootropics legal? And what are they, legal nootropics?

This topic comes with a lot of confusion and contradiction, mainly due to the fact that nootropics are a fairly new invention, and the laws are different from country to country. Adding to this confusion, nootropics come in a wide variety of different types, making classification and legal policies different from one compound to the next even if their effects are the same.

In general, most nootropics are legal all over the world, with a few specifics depending on the country. Let’s get into the details regarding the legalities of nootropics.

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Table of Contents

Who Regulates Nootropics?

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Substances are classified as being either uncontrolled, controlled, or restricted. Most dietary supplements are uncontrolled, while prescription drugs are considered controlled. This is because governments track and regulate the amount of these substances that are sold and to whom they are being sent to.

When it comes to nootropics, the majority are listed as dietary supplements in the eyes of government regulation. These substances are lightly regulated on the consumer end, but may come with strict guidelines for the sellers on how they market and sell these substances. This leads us into the classification of “research compounds”.The majority of nootropics are legal smart drugs and are assumes as safe food supplements.

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Research chemicals

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Some nootropics are considered to be research chemicals, which basically means they have not been on the market long enough to be proven safe or effective. These substances can’t be sold or marketed in the same way as other substances, which is part of the reason you won’t find substances like Noopept or Piracetam on Amazon or Ebay. These substances can still be sourced from the companies that manufacture it as long as you follow their terms of service regarding its classification as a research substance. In some instances this means only small amounts can be purchased at a time.

In the United States, research chemicals like the Racetam family of compounds don’t have restrictions if purchased domestically, however, if purchasing internationally, only amounts equivalent to a 3 month personal supply are allowed. This of course is not a black and white measurement because few of these substances have well defined daily doses. Discretion is advised when purchasing these compounds because if you buy too much at a time, the package may be confiscated at the border by officials.

The major difference between research chemicals, and dietary supplements is that plant-based chemicals tend to be thought of as safe until proven unsafe, while synthetic substances (like the research nootropics) are considered dangerous until proven safe. This means natural compounds are usually allowed to be sold freely before safety is proven, while synthetics need to go through strict regulation until they are confirmed safe… which can take many years and millions of dollars to do.

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Nootropic Legality by Classification

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There are 3 general types of nootropics

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Herbs and Herbal Extracts as Legal Nootropics

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Herbs and Herbal Extracts as nootropics are assumed as foods. Respectfully, all herbal nootropics can be bought, sold, taken, grown or consumed totally legal. Find out more about herbal nootropics and their benefits in our article.

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Dietary Nootropic Nutrients

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This category includes diverse vitamins and minerals and dietary nutrients supplements. All these nootropics can be assumed as food-related. Such supplements are lightly regulated but still all manufacturers should put safety labels on their products to ensure their quality.

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Synthetics and Semi-Synthetics

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This category combines completely synthesized nootropics from inorganic sources (Synthetics) and organically synthesized supplements (Semi-Synthetics). The legal status of nootropics from this category varies from country to country. Some governments see this nootropics as food supplements and it means they are not regulated, some assume these nootropics should be barred only by prescription, others view them as totally controlled substances. Keep on reading our next paragraph to find out the differences of nootropics regulation in several countries.

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Are Nootropics Legal in My Country?

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Every country has different laws regarding the sale of nootropic substances. For example, Piracetam is legal in the United States, Prescription only in Canada and the UK, and banned completely in Australia. Although this is one of the more extreme examples of differences in nootropic regulation, it does tend to vary a lot depending on the substance.

Most countries have the same laws around naturally occurring nootropic substances like L-theanine, huperzine-A, alpha-GPC, and bacopa, however, it’s the semi synthetic (vinpocetine), and synthetic compounds (racetams) that can have a radically different legal status.In the United States, research chemicals like the Racetam family of compounds don’t have restrictions if purchased domestically, however, if purchasing internationally, only amounts equivalent to a 3 month personal supply are allowed. This of course is not a black and white measurement because few of these substances have well defined daily doses. Discretion is advised when purchasing these compounds because if you buy too much at a time, the package may be confiscated at the border by officials.

The major difference between research chemicals, and dietary supplements is that plant-based chemicals tend to be thought of as safe until proven unsafe, while synthetic substances (like the research nootropics) are considered dangerous until proven safe. This means natural compounds are usually allowed to be sold freely before safety is proven, while synthetics need to go through strict regulation until they are confirmed safe… which can take many years and millions of dollars to do.

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Canada

Much like the United States and Australia, the majority of nootropics available on the market can be bought and sold in Canada. The exceptions to this are the racetams, which require a prescription.

United States

The vast majority of nootropic compounds are legal in the United States. The higher end of the restrictions placed on these substances generally fall into the “research compounds” category. This category mainly regulates the seller in how they advertise or market these products rather than the buyer.

Australia

In Australia, most nootropic compounds are perfectly legal and available for purchase. This excludes racetams and noopept which require a prescription, and piracetam which is listed as a schedule IV substance and therefore not available in any form.

United Kingdom

Most popular nootropic substances  are available in the United Kingdom. Exceptions include modafinil and piracetam which are prescription only. Noopept is only allowed for purchase in small, “personal” doses from overseas.

China

China is considered to be one of the main nootropic manufacturers in the world. They are almost all completely legal in China, except for Hong Kong, which tends to have stricter regulation on substances across the board.

Japan

Japan has fairly strict regulations on the import of nootropic substances into the country. Herbal and dietary nootropics are generally legal, however, most of the synthetic substances are regulated in one way or another. This changes frequently so be sure to check frequently if planning on bringing nootropics to Japan.

CountryStatus of Nootropics
The USAthe majority of nootropics available on the market can be bought and sold in Canada. The exceptions to this are the racetams, which require a prescription.
AustraliaMost nootropic compounds are perfectly legal. This excludes racetams and noopept which require a prescription, and piracetam which is listed as a schedule IV substance and therefore not available in any form.
The UKMost popular nootropic substances  are legal and free to use. Exceptions include modafinil and piracetam which are prescription only. Noopept is only allowed for purchase in small, “personal” doses from overseas.
ChinaThe majority of nootropics are legal, except for Hong Kong, which tends to have stricter regulation on substances across the board.

Japan

Herbal and dietary nootropics are generally legal, however, most of the synthetic substances are regulated in one way or another.
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Best Legal Nootropics

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Here is a short list of the best legal nootropics one can find.

Noopept

Noopept is one of the strongest nootropics legally available. Its effective benefits are related to synaptic plasticity and are believed to enhance working memory and memory consolidation. Regular intake of this supplement results in improved sensory perception and reflexes, increased learning ability, advanced logical thinking, reduced level of anxiety, better overall mood, and more effective overall cognitive performance. Noopept help increase blood flow to the brain which promotes the growth of neurons in the brain. It also has strong anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects. Noopept does not any significant side – effects if taken according to the recommended dosage.

Huperzine A

Huperzine A is a natural nootropic that is extracted from a herb which is found in China. It is a strong and 100% legal smart drug. This supplement stimulates the brain which results in improved memory and cognition. It reduces the breakdown of acetylcholine thus allowing greater activity in the brain. Huperzine A protects the brain from dangerous toxins and promotes the growth of nerve cells. This is a very safe nootropic with very mild, if any, side – effects

Pramiracetam

This supplement is an enhanced version of Piracetam and it’s one of the best legal nootropics in the world. Its significantly higher oral bioavailability means that you need to take a lower dosage to see its enhanced cognitive effects. It increases the growth and maintenance of neurons in the brain thus increasing its productivity. It improves overall brain energy, enhances memory and learning capacity, increases concentration, focus, and attention span. It is a strong nootropic and has been noted for promoting long and intense sessions of productivity and focus. It does not have much effect on anxiety levels or on the mood focusing only on promoting cognitive effect.

Choline Bitartrate

Choline Bitartrate is another great nootropic that is available legally. It is made from choline which is an important nutrient which helps the body to function properly.  Regular intake of this supplement produces a number of great benefits such as improved cognitive performance and enhanced memory. It has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, and it also helps to protect the liver from stress. It not only boosts memory but is also good for general health. It also helps people suffering from depression, dementia, memory loss, and Alzheimer’s.

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Internationally Banned Nootropics

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This is probably the most common question regarding the legality of nootropics. Although as previously stated, most nootropics are in fact completely legal the world over, there are a select few that are blatantly illegal across the board.

These substances most often have other effects at higher doses, such as psilocybin, which is the main active constituent in magic mushrooms. High doses of this substance cause shifts in perception and hallucinations, however, small doses have been shown to have nootropic like benefits on cognition and creativity.

Illegal nootropic substances include:

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Legal Nootropics In Sport

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If you are a professional athlete or planning to participate in some sport competitions you should be familiar with World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA). On its official website you can find an up-to-date 2018 list of Prohibited Substances and Methods. Although nootropics are not medicine there are a few nootropics that were banned for sportsmen. Among them are the strongest productivity boosters and stimulants

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The Prescription Nootropics

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Prescription nootropics are considered to be controlled substances. These include compounds that don’t easily fit into a classification as a dietary supplement or food item. Laws can vary a lot on these, so it’s important to check the specific laws if you plan on purchasing nootropics online.

Places like Canada, Australia, and the UK for example all list racetams and noopept as a prescription medicine, but other places like the United States doesn’t place any restrictions on purchasing from domestic sources.

Prescription nootropics include:

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Conclusion

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Nootropics is a great way to improve your cognitive abilities and mental functions. And great news – the majority of nootropics are legal smart drugs and are assumes as safe food supplements! But still there are some laws and differences in regulations in various countries so you need to check the laws of your particular country on the nootropics you have chosen.

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