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Illegal and Legal Nootropics - Quick Guide on Global Nootropic Laws

By Dr. Ramon Velazquez Ph.D.

Depending on where you live, buying legal nootropics can either be a walk in the park or a long wait at the pharmacy.

Some of the most frequently asked questions regarding nootropics and non-nootropic cognitive enhancers include:

  • Are they legal to buy, own, and consume?
  • Do I need a prescription for nootropics?
  • Is it legal to import nootropics from other countries?

And, most importantly:

  • How can I get some legally?

Despite their massive rise in popularity, nootropic legality remains a contentious topic across the world – namely because no single government holds an identical legal definition of what constitutes a nootropic.<1>

In fact, most governments don't even recognize, and therefore regulate, nootropics. Leaving it almost entirely to the manufacturers and consumers to figure it out.

This, of course, comes with its pros and cons, and by no means do we intend to provide a comprehensive review on nootropic law within this guide.

But you should at least leave here with a better understanding on how to legally supplement nootropics for both recreational and professional uses.

Who Regulates Nootropics?

Are nootropics legal? To answer, we must first weigh all of their differences.
Drug or Dietary Supplement? This is ultimately the question.

Most regulatory government agencies regard nootropics a dietary supplements, which are lightly regulated.

The nootropic users themselves – you and us – are "regulating" proper nootropic usage. 

This is why DIY nootropic threads have recently become such a massive online forum phenomena.

Forum sites such as Reddit and Bluelight have become valuable resources nootropic safety, source, and usage concerns related to dosaging, stacking, cycling, fact-checking, etc. questions and answers.

Most nootropics are legal. They are classified as dietary supplements, which are regulated as foods.

Foods are legally assumed "innocent" (i.e., safe) until proven guilty, so to speak. This is a flipside to certain synthetics, which require for their legal innocence to be proven first.

In fact, this was the vision of Dr. Corneliu Giurgea, the founder of nootropics: To develop a series of cognitive enhancers absent of the "usual pharmacological effects of psychotropic drugs."<2>

Adherence to this criterion theoretically eliminates the need for law and regulation.

However, should a nootropic overstep this boundary, there are legal and policy measures in place to regulate its usage.

Controlling and Scheduling Nootropics

Is my nootropic legal?

To find our you need to know:

  1. Is the nootropic controlled?
  2. Is the nootropic scheduled?

And then the sub-questions: How much control and which schedule?

The U.S. model provides the following definitions:

  • Controlled nootropics - require prescription or age-verification to buy.
  • Scheduled nootropics - ranked, or scheduled, by their risk of abuse: Schedule I being the highest risk category, Schedule V being the lowest.<3>

Typically, the schedule of a nootropic determines its control. High-risk substances are barred by strict access checkpoints.

Some are just flat-out illegal to own and consume. On the other hand,  low-risk items are often sold OTC.

Due to their inherently safe, Dr. Giurgean design, most nootropics are low-risk, and therefore, legal.

Nootropic Legality by Classification

There is no one-size-fits all legal definition of nootropics because there is no one-size-fits all nootropic.

Here's another turn of the screw: The particular legal status of a particular nootropic may not universally apply to other nation's regulatory codes.

For example, a single nootropic might be:

  • An over-the-counter, legal nootropic in Canada
  • A prescription-based nootropic in the U.K.
  • A banned illegal nootropic in Australia.

This is often the case with synthetic (e.g., racetams) and semi-synthetic (e.g., vinpocetine) nootropics.

For the sake of simplicity here, we'll provide a brief review on the common legal statuses of nootropics by their general types, including:

  • Herbs and Herbal Extracts
  • Dietary Nootropic Nutrients
  • Synthetics and Semi-Synthetics

While bearing in mind that your local legal system may differ from the global law standard, rest assured that the first two categories on this list are virtually 100% legal across the world:

Herbs and Herbal Extracts as Legal Nootropics


Many herbs, like Bacopa monnieri, are considered legal nootropics with long histories of effectiveness. Sketch of the Ayurvedic adaptogen Bacopa monnieri. 

Bacopa monnieri, Rhodiola rosea, Camellia sinensis – such cognitive enhancing botanicals backed by centuries and centuries of safe, effective human use have generally received the "okay" by the world's top regulatory bodies. 

And the same applies to their extracts as well – although not all, most notably:

  • Ephedra (Ma Huang) - potent natural stimulant with legal restrictions due to its well-documented side effects.<4>
  • St. John's Wort - largely unrestricted serotonergic mood booster, often warned against for its negative interactions with prescription synthetics.<5>

Aside from a few rare examples, nootropic herbs and herbal extracts are completely legal to buy, own, and consume, even without the caveat that they be sold as research compounds.

Die-hard nootropic enthusiasts may even grow their herbal cognitive enhancers, if they are so inclined.

The legal accessibility of natural nootropics is earned by their legal and literal status as foods. Herbal extracts on the other hand don't quite literally qualify as foods however, so some user discretion may be advised in supplementing extracts.

Nootropic Herbs that Toe the Line: Since the legal downfall of ephedra, certain ephedra-like extracts (e.g., synephrine) have infiltrated the energy market. Despite their overwhelming popularity as fat-burners, natural, risky stimulants frequently dip into the nootropic scene as well.

Dietary Nootropic Nutrients

Dietary compounds, such as vitamins, minerals, and aminos, are generally uninhibited by government regulation.

To completely restrict access to vitamins and minerals would require fatalistic restrictions on essentially all solid foods. Which would be a counter-productive move by health-focused agencies for obvious reasons.

As such, food-related nootropic nutrients require no regulation on the customer end of the transaction, yet there are purity, safety, and labeling codes that manufacturers must abide by to ensure the quality of their products.

Representing an annual expenditure of over $25 billion in the United States alone, dietary supplements undergo stringent quality assurance procedures before reaching the shelves.<6> For the customers, the legal concerns over nootropic vitamins and minerals are just that: Assurance.

However, to achieve brain-boosting performance, nootropic users will need to stack more than OTC vitamins and minerals in their supplement. Only the B vitamins possess substantial cognitive enhancing potential.

Synthetics and Semi-Synthetics

Huperzine-A, a Chinese club moss compound, straddles the line between organic and synthetic. By Jynto <CC0>, via Wikimedia Commons
Here is where you're most likely to encounter legal issues with nootropics: Nootropic Synthetics and Semi-Synthetics.

If you're wondering what's the difference, here it is:

  • Nootropic Synthetics - are synthesized from inorganic material.
  • Nootropic Semi-Synthetics - are synthesized from natural sources.

A key example of a synthetic nootropic – in fact the first synthesized nootropic – is piracetam, the original nootropic cognitive enhancer in a long series of cholinergic racetams.<7> To demonstrate the complexity of synthetic nootropic legality: piracetam is legal to order and consume in Canada and the USA, but is barred by prescription in the U.K. and scheduled in Australia – however, U.K. residents may freely purchase similar racetam variants, such as aniracetam and oxiracetam.

Semi-synthetic nootropics, such as vinpocetine and huperzine-A, greatly vary in their legality from country to country. This is because some countries view them as natural dietary supplements, others as controlled substances.

Nootropic Synthetics that Toe the Line: Nearly every synthetic and semi-synthetic nootropic toes the line somewhere in the world. Be sure to check local laws to clarify the legality of purchasing synthetic nootropics in your area.

Are Nootropics Legal in My Country?

Australia: For the most part, nootropic supplements are legal to purchase, own, and consume. Racetams are not OTC legal nootropics. Piracetam ranks as Schedule IV. Mind Lab Pro® ships here.

Canada: Canada designates Drug Identification Numbers (DIN) to regulated substances. Currently, there are no DINs for any popular nootropic supplements. Mind Lab Pro® ships here.

China: China houses the largest nootropic dispensary in the world and subjects its manufactured nootropics to high quality controls. Most nootropics are legal. However, Hong Kong has stricter substance limits. Mind Lab Pro® ships here.

France: Piracetam is a regulated substance, Ordonnance-Liste II. Most nootropics are legal. French nootropic regulation is light. Mind Lab Pro® ships here.

Germany: Germany is relatively strict when it comes to importing restricted nootropic substances from other countries, although most popular nootropics are unrestricted. Mind Lab Pro® ships here.

Japan: Japan also limits importation of restricted nootropic substances, an added frustration to Japan’s limited over-the-counter options — however, these options are reportedly expanding. Mind Lab Pro® ships here.

Russia: Russian nootropic legality is complex. Many legal nootropics including memory products may be bought over-the-counter, except for certain brand names which are inexplicably barred by prescription. Mind Lab Pro® ships here.

United Kingdom: Nootropics are generally legal to purchase, own and consume. Mind Lab Pro® ships here.

United States: Finally, in USA it is legal to purchase, own, and consume all of the popular nootropic supplements. The U.S. does not control nor schedule most nootropics. The public can also buy some synthetics under the "research compounds" classification. Mind Lab Pro® ships here.

Mind Lab Pro® is 100% Legal Nootropics

A bottle of legal Mind Lab Pro

Mind Lab Pro® supplies the planet's safest, most research-backed nootropics.

As a result, all 11 Mind Lab Pro® ingredients support brain health.

And importantly, all are legal nootropics in virtually every country in the world:

  • Vitamins B6, B9 and B12 as BioGenesis™
  • Citicoline (as Cognizin®)
  • Bacopa Monnieri (full spectrum extract std. for min. 24% bacosides, calibrated for 9 nootropic bioactives)
  • Lion’s Mane Mushroom (full spectrum)
  • Phosphatidylserine (as Sharp-PS® Green from Sunflower Lecithin)
  • N-Acetyl L-Tyrosine
  • L-Theanine (as Suntheanine®)
  • Rhodiola Rosea (Std. for min. 3% rosavins and 1% salidroside)
  • Maritime Pine Bark Extract (Std. for min. 95% proanthocyanidins)

Get the Best Mind Lab Pro Deal Now

Generally speaking, Mind Lab Pro® nootropics qualify as safe and legal, free of banned substances and performance enhancers.

As such, Mind Lab Pro® may be taken as a legal performance enhancer by students, professionals, amateurs, athletes, and gamers.

More on Mind Lab Pro® nootropics

Where in the World is Mind Lab Pro® Legal?

In other words, does Mind Lab Pro® ship to your country? 

Odds are: Yes. Mind Lab Pro® ships to many countries.

However, if you are still unsure, here is a partial list of where Mind Lab Pro® delivers to:

United States, China, Japan, Germany, United Kingdom, France, Brazil, Italy, India, Russian Federation, Canada, Australia, South Korea, Spain, Mexico, Indonesia, Netherlands, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Switzerland, Sweden, Nigeria, Poland, Argentina, Belgium, Norway, Austria, Thailand, United Arab Emirates, South Africa, Denmark, Malaysia, Singapore, Israel, Egypt, Hong Kong, Philippines, Finland, Chile, Ireland, Pakistan, Greece, Portugal, Iraq, Kazakhstan, Algeria, Qatar, Czech Republic, Peru, New Zealand, Romania, Vietnam, Bangladesh, Kuwait, Angola, Hungary, Ukraine, Morocco, Puerto Rico, Ecuador, Sri Lanka, Cuba, Belarus, Azerbaijan, Sudan, Luxembourg, Myanmar, Dominican Republic, Uzbekistan, Kenya, Guatemala, Uruguay, Croatia, Bulgaria, Ethiopia, Costa Rica, Slovenia, Tunisia, Lithuania, Tanzania, Turkmenistan, Panama, Lebanon, Serbia, Latvia, Cyprus, Paraguay, Iceland, Jamaica, Bahamas, and many other countries.

To learn more on Mind Lab Pro® safety and legality, read the Mind Lab Pro® FAQ page.

Internationally Banned Nootropics

Nootropic Legality in Sport

Posted on the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) website, the 2017 List of Prohibited Substances and Methods details a few banned nootropics for competitive sport.

WADA's illegal nootropics list includes the strongest and harshest stimulants and productivity boosters such as modafinil, adrafinil, phenylpiracetam and selegiline. However, the banned list includes non-nootropic performance enhancers as well, e.g., DHEA.

For athletes competing in traditional sports, this is old news. But for professional eSports gamers, legal mental enhancing gaming substances concerns are new. Therefore, it is always smart to check with WADA and local league standards to confirm eSport PED ethics code. Because you never know.


In conclusion, the mass majority of natural nootropics, as well as the semi-synthetics, are legal and freely accessible to buy, possess, and consume.

Buying pre-made manufactured nootropic supplements as stacks is the ultimate way to go to remove any nootropic legality concerns. Especially with Mind Lab Pro®.

Mind Lab Pro® supplies 100% legal nootropics.

Each Mind Lab Pro® nootropic is also best-in-class quality -- pure, potent and effective, for superior 100% Brainpower results.

 Get the Best Mind Lab Pro Deal Now


  1. Hyman SE. Cognitive enhancement: promises and perils. Neuron. 2011 Feb 24; 69(4): 595-8.
  2. Giurgea C, Salama M. Nootropic drugs. Progress in Neuro-Psychopharmacology. 1977; 1(3-4): 235-247.
  3. Gabay M, PharmD, JD, BCPS. The Federal Controlled Substances Act: Schedules and Pharmacy Registration. Hosp Pharm. 2013 Jun; 48(6) 473-474.
  4. Kim TJ, LeBourgeois III HW. Banned, but Not Forgotten: A Case of Ephedrine-Induced Psychosis. Prim Care Companion J Clin Psychiatry. 2004; 6(3): 136-7.
  5. L Henderson et al. St John's wort (Hypericum perforatum): drug interactions and clinical outcomes. Br J Clin Pharmacol. 2002 Oct; 54(4): 349-356.
  6. Phillips MM et al. Dietary Supplement Laboratory Quality Assurance Program: The First Five Exercises. J AOAC Int. 2011 May-Jun; 94(3): 803-814.
  7. Pilch H, Müller WE. Piracetam elevates muscarinic cholinergic receptor density in the frontal cortex of aged but not of young mice. Psychopharmacology (Berl). 1988; 94(1): 74-8.

These statements have not been approved by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

This article is an opinion and explanation of current research given by the author. It is not an expression of a medical diagnosis or treatment and should not be relied on as such.

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