You might ask, are steroids illegal? Why are steroids illegal? Here we will discuss the legality behind steroids. Anabolic steroid laws are a vastly differing subject in comparison to the laws surrounding other substances and drugs. It must first be established and made very clear to the reader that anabolic steroid laws prohibiting the use, possession, buying, and selling of anabolic steroids is almost one hundred percent an American notion and concept. The fact is that the vast majority of nations in the world possess either no anabolic steroid laws, or very lax laws in regards to anabolic steroids and their use. The United States is one of the only countries in the world that has placed such draconian laws upon anabolic steroids. In Canada and the UK (England), for example, anabolic steroids are schedule IV drugs, which allows legal personal use and possession, but criminalizes trafficking. The concept that anabolic steroid use is “bad” is an American projection on reality, and it is indeed a concept and notion that the United States has consistently pressured other countries internationally in adopting this stance along with the associated anabolic steroid laws. Many nations have in fact resisted such pressuring, and even neighboring countries such as Canada, for example, did not even add anabolic steroids to the list of controlled substances until 1996. That is approximately 6 years after the United States added it to their Controlled Substances Act (CSA) under the Anabolic Steroid Control Act of 1990.
The majority of this article will focus upon American anabolic steroid laws, but will also branch out into the laws concerning other nations internationally in order to bring forth a greater awareness among the public that not every single nation on the face of the earth adopts the same laws and regulations as the United States. It is also important to understand that within these countries in which there are lax or no steroid laws, there exists no greater “national epidemic” of anabolic steroid abuse than within the United States, and that prohibition actually causes an increased amount of problems in relation to its use as well as the black market. We will answer the question of are steroids illegal or are steroids legal.
The buying, selling, and general trade of anabolic steroids dates back to the early 1960s, which was not long after the very first synthetic Testosterone analogues and derivatives were synthesized and produced (approximately 10 years prior) in the 1950s. The actual anabolic steroid black market that existed at this time was quite miniscule, and the majority of those looking to buy and use anabolic steroids would do so through doctors, pharmacies, and medical professionals. These were the primary sources of obtaining anabolic steroids. Up until the late 1980s, anabolic steroids were prescription drugs and medicine, much like any other, which was available only through the prescription of a licensed physician. However, no control or laws over anabolic steroids existed, and the sources previously mentioned as were largely unregulated. Simultaneously, there were virtually no underground labs (UGLs) in existence due to the fact that pharmaceutical human grade products were effortlessly accessible with very little effort. Anabolic steroid ‘dealers’ and sources outside of the medical establishment (pharmacies and physicians) did exist, but in very small numbers. These sources would gather large volumes of pharmaceutical quality anabolic steroids for resale outside of doctors and pharmacies (typically in gyms, etc.) and even these dealers and sources never faced any form of severe penalties. These dealers and sources were not a concern for the police, and if any unlicensed dealers or vendors did encounter any penalties, they would almost always amount to nothing greater than small fines.
With this being said, the vast majority (upwards of 90% or more) of anabolic steroid users obtained their product from legitimate pharmacies and were obtaining pure, proper, and sterile product for use. As previously mentioned, the anabolic steroid black market was almost nonexistent at the time. However, in the late 1980s, the concern over anabolic steroids was growing, and the mass media began to increase its exposure of Testosterone and anabolic steroid use among athletes to the public, and this occurred almost exclusively in the context of professional and competitive sports. Following this, things began to worsen as well as shifting in a slightly different direction, as the media would now begin increasing sensationalist reporting to include that of the use of anabolic steroids among “high school boys”. Following a consistent bombardment in the television, radio, and newspapers concerning anabolic steroid use for two or three years, the final swan song of the freedom of anabolic steroid use arrived when Canadian Olympic sprinter Ben Johnson tested positive for the anabolic steroid Winstrol (Stanozolol) in 1988. Following this, the image of anabolic steroids was further demonized by the government and the media in front of the general public.
Legislation of the Anabolic Steroid Laws Begins
Shortly after the mounting anti-steroid hysteria, pressure was increased in Washington on congress to hold hearings to explore different methods to prevent the use of performance enhancing drugs in professional sports. The House and Senate then drafted bills and held hearings in order to solve the issue. While the health risks were discussed during these hearings, the central point of debate was the issue of cheating in sports. During this time period, some individual states began to impose state-level laws banning and/or criminalizing anabolic steroids, such as California, which had done so before the federal legislation on anabolic steroids were enacted.
Perhaps the most important historical detail then occurred that also happens to be the most widely overlooked and unknown detail: When hearings were held regarding the lawmaking surrounding anabolic steroid laws, congress besought the opinion and help of four major professional organizations regarding the hot topic of anabolic steroids: the American Medical Association (AMA), the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). The most important detail here is that all four of these chief influential administrations stated very clearly that they were all fervently and vociferously opposed to the notion that anabolic steroids should be criminalized and be categorized as controlled substances. Each and every one of these major professional organizations brought forth the scientific and statistical facts to Congress that supported the idea that the use of anabolic steroids does not lead to the two requirements for a substance becoming a scheduled drug. The two requirements are physical dependence, and psychological dependence, both of which are not expressed what so every by anabolic steroids. Rather than listening to these major organizations and following their advice, Congress selected instead to disregard all of the medical and scientific evidence presented before them by these representatives at Capitol Hill and decided to schedule anabolic steroids regardless.
It is very evident that Congress’ primary concern was not on the issue of health and rather solely on the “cheating” issue within competitive and professional sports. It was two years later in 1990 when the Anabolic Steroid Control Act of 1990 was passed, which officially added anabolic steroids to the federal Controlled Substances Act. This resulted in anabolic steroids being placed into the Schedule III category of the Controlled Substances Act, which classified anabolic steroids strangely into the same category as Opiates, Ketamine, Barbiturates, and stimulants. This now made it an illegal criminal offense in the United States to possess, use, buy, and sell anabolic steroids without a valid prescription. At the time, unlawful possession and use was punishable by up to one year in prison, and distribution was punishable by up to 5 years prison time. Distribution and possession with the intent to distribute and traffic, especially to anyone under 21 years old, was punishable by up to 10 years in prison for a first offense, and up to 30 years for a repeat offense. The laws since then have changed for the worse, imposing even more harsh and draconian penalties that will be discussed shortly.
The NEW Anabolic Steroid Control Act of 2004
Following the BALCO scandal (Bay Area Laboratory Cooperative) involving hundreds of professional athletes, the national anti-steroid hysteria concerning the use of anabolic steroids in the United States once again reached an all-time high. As a result, the United States government stepped into the issue again, holding congressional hearings once again on the issue. It is interesting to note that since the anabolic steroid laws passed in 1990 through the Anabolic Steroid Control Act, the rate of use of anabolic steroids among the general population in the United States had only skyrocketed. It is quite ironic that as the anti-steroid sentimentality strengthened throughout the 1980s leading to anabolic steroid prohibition, it was in fact the accompanying anti-steroid publicity and propaganda in the media that was responsible for more and more individuals among the population becoming increasingly aware of anabolic steroids, what they are, and what they do. This generated an enlarged amount of individuals among the populace that then became drawn to prospect of using and/or trying anabolic steroids, which then created a greater demand. This, combined with the increasing popularity of bodybuilding at the time, is one of the direct results of extensive media coverage at the time.
As a consequence of the anabolic steroid laws created in 1990 tempered with the increasing popularity of the use of these substances, the demand for anabolic steroids increased vastly but now supply had been limited and cut by a great deal. Normally the consequence following any prohibition and criminalization of a substance generates a massive flourishing and expansion of the black market trade of anabolic steroids. What accompanied this was also an increase in counterfeiting operations in order to take advantage of the legal situation and media exposure, which was causing high demand. Because pharmaceutical grade products now exhibited either a greater difficulty to obtain or simply due to the fact that pharmaceutical companies were now discontinuing production of select anabolic steroids, underground labs now began to set up and spread like wildfire not only across the United States itself, but internationally. Alongside this was the development in the early 2000s of what were essentially legally sold anabolic steroids (anabolic steroid compounds that were either newly developed or previously known and were therefore not added to the Anabolic Steroid Control Act) and prohormones (hormones that would turn into active anabolic steroids upon ingestion) in order to skirt the anabolic steroid laws.
All of these factors, combined with the media frenzy concerning the use of anabolic steroids by baseball players (Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire, Jose Canseco, Jason Giambi, Sammy Sosa, Roger Clemens, etc.) had sparked the second major assault on anabolic steroids by congress and the United States Government. After the congressional hearings and investigations, congress then made the decision to alter and amend the Anabolic Steroid Control Act of 1990 with the newly created and restructured Anabolic Steroid Control Act of 2004. The amendments to the act included the addition of all known prohormones to the list of controlled substances under which anabolic steroids already belonged to (schedule III), as well as the designer steroids that had previously been unknown or newly developed. This resulted, of course, in the pulling of all prohormone products from supplement stores, and any posession, use, or sale of these substances would now be considered a criminal offense as well. In addition to this, in 2004, the 10th congress then altered and changed the definition of what an anabolic steroid is (according to the Controlled Substances Act of the United States) so as to allow a much more vague and ambiguous interpretation. As such, the definition of what constitutes an anabolic steroid was changed to the following: “The term ‘anabolic steroid’ means any drug or hormonal substance, chemically and pharmacologically related to testosterone (other than estrogens, progestins, corticosteroids and dehydroepiandrosterone).”
Therefore, the precise definition as defined by the Controlled Substances Act under (41)(A) to this day is:
“any drug or hormonal substance, chemically and pharmacologically related to Testosterone (other than Estrogens, Progestins, corticosteroids, and Dehydroepiandrosterone.” Effectively, this change to a broader definition allowed the government and lawmakers to obtain a far broader degree of control and manipulation on the legality of substances that are involved in bodybuilding, performance, or physique enhancement – whether or not they are anabolic steroids by nature.
The following prohormones were all included in the 2004 ban:
- Androstanediol (3β,17β-dihydroxy-5α-androstane and 3α,17β-dihydroxy-5α-androstane)
- Androstanedione (5α-androstan-3,17-dione)
- 1-Androstenediol (3α,17β-dihydroxy-5α-androst-1-ene)
- 4-Androstenediol (3β,17β-dihydroxy-androst-4-ene)
- 5-Androstenediol (3β,17β-dihydroxy-androst-5-ene)
- 1-Androstenedione (5α-androst-1-en-3,17-dione)
- 4-Androstenedione (androst-4-en-3,17-dione)
- 5-Androstenedione (androst-5-en-3,17-dione)
- Norandrostenediol (19-nor-4-androstenediol or 3β,17β-dihydroxyestr-4-ene)
- 19-Nor-4-androstenediol (3α,17β-dihydroxyestr-4-ene)
- 19-Nor-5-androstenediol (3β,17β-dihydroxyestr-5-ene and 3α,17β-dihydroxyestr-5-ene)
- Norandrostenedione (19-nor-4-androstenedione or estr-4-en-3,17-dione)
- 19-Nor-5-androstenedione (estr-5-en-3,17-dione)
- Any salt, ester, or ether of a drug or substance listed above
Anabolic Steroid Laws and Punishments at the Federal Level
In 1991, the US Sentencing Commission created the federal guidelines for the anabolic steroid laws, and they did note the distinction between anabolic steroids and other schedule III drugs such as narcotics due to the amount of anabolic steroids and types in existence. They therefore defined “one unit of anabolic steroids” as a single 10ml vial of injectable anabolic steroids, or 50 tablets of any oral anabolic steroid. Larger vials of injectables, such as 30ml vials, were converted and broken down to the single units previously listed. So, a 30ml vial would be the equivalent of three 10ml vials and therefore qualify as three units of anabolic steroids.
However, the punishments and guidelines as to the amounts then drastically changed with the 2004 Anabolic Steroid Control Act as previously described in this article. The Anabolic Steroid Control Act of 2004 not only changed the definition of “anabolic steroid” and added substances to the Anabolic Steroid Control Act, but it also introduced far more severe and much harsher penalties. The Anabolic Steroid Control Act of 2004 instructed the US Sentencing Commission to increase the punishments “in a manner that reflects the seriousness of such offenses and the need to deter anabolic steroid trafficking and use…” On April 5th 2004, the Commission then made amendments to the guidelines that took effect on March 27, 2006. This changed punishments to a 1:1 ratio with other drugs under schedule III. This created a 20-fold increase for injectable anabolic steroid units, and a 50-fold increase for oral anabolic steroid units. Specifically, this change made “one unit of anabolic steroids” as one pill/tablet, and changed injectable units now to 0.5ml as being a single unit of anabolic steroids (injectable). All other formats of anabolic steroid (e.g. powder form, or transdermal creams and patches) under the newly changed guidelines are determined as 25mg as one unit of anabolic steroid.
Not only did the Anabolic Steroid Control Act of 2004 bring about changes in increased penalties, punishments, and quantifications, but the new amendments increased the amount of steroid-related prosecutions, investigations, and anti-steroid operations. The DEA had actually even announced that they had begun a rejuvenated effort and attempt of anti-steroid enforcement, prior to the change in legislation, and DEA Deputy Administrator at the time, Michele Leonhart, on October 12, 2004 had stated “We are now focused on steroid trafficking and abuse as never before” Even Scott Burns, the deputy director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy at the time, had stated that “but now they [law enforcement] have now made the trafficking of steroids a priority”
Anabolic Steroid Laws and Punishments by State
In addition to the legislation of anabolic steroids on a federal level, anabolic steroids and the laws that are imposed on them also vary on a state by state basis. Various states have actually gone so far as to legislate the idea that any hint of use of anabolic steroids for the purpose of physique, performance, or athletic improvement in healthy patients is not a valid purpose and is punishable with criminal penalties for doctors. Even non-steroidal substances have been classified as controlled substances in many states. HCG (Human Chorionic Gonadotropin), which is not an anabolic steroid, has been legislated as a controlled substance (and possession and distribution is therefore a criminal offense) in the following states:
- New York
- North Carolina
- Rhode Island
Every single of the 51 states holds its right to enable and/or alter its own anabolic steroid laws (or laws for other drugs and substances) that it deems as being ‘dangerous’. At the federal level, as well as at the state level in almost every single state, anabolic steroids are legislated under schedule III of the Controlled Substances Act, as previously mentioned. However, there are many states that have actually moved anabolic steroids up the list on the CSA, therefore enabling anabolic steroids to be regarded as an even worse A-list narcotic, directly on par with cocaine, opium, methadone, morphine, phenylcycledine (PCP), and more. The associated penalties with substances under schedule II in these states also apply to anabolic steroids. It is very important for every individual to understand the specific laws in the state in which they reside, as the actual anabolic steroid laws can actually be worse than federal law determines. These states include:
- New York
Some states have not even scheduled anabolic steroids at all under their individual state law. These states include:
Although the above two states have not scheduled anabolic steroids as controlled substances at all, federal law still does apply in these states, so individuals should be reminded that they do not exactly live in a state under which anabolic steroid possession or use is “legal”, even though state law says it is so. Each state also holds the individual freedom to define anabolic steroids as it freely wishes, which allows the definition to easily overlap other non-steroidal substances and cause the use and possession of them to be considered criminal offenses where most states would not.
There are often times even some severe discrepancies where both federal law and state law is concerned, and it is obvious that the lawmakers do not properly understand the chemistry or biology, or have they solicited the help of any experts (at least not to any helpful extent). For example, Connecticut under its state law has Dianabol listed twice under its two different chemical names (Methandrostenolone and Methandienone). Dihydrotestosterone (DHT) is listed as both Dihydrotestosterone and Stanolone on controlled substances lists. Some states, such as Rhode Island have listed HGH (Human Growth Hormone) as controlled substances that fall under the same penalties that are listed under the anabolic steroid laws. Pennsylvania is one state that has actually excluded Human Growth Hormone from its controlled substances list and has stated in its laws that it “shall not be included as an anabolic steroid”. Delaware’s law in regards to Human Growth Hormone is extremely confusing, as it has legislated the name Human Growth Hormone as “synonymous with the term ‘human chorionic gonadotropin’”.
Different states have also imposed individually different penalties on what amounts are considered punishable as personal use, possession, or intent to traffic. For example, various states consider possession and use for personal means as a misdemeanor, while possession with intent to traffic/distribute is a criminal offense (felony). Other states have listed that possession is not a felony. Ohio has stated that 200 tablets or 16ml (of liquid product) is the uppermost limit for personal possession and use, which is treated as a misdemeanor, but more than these stated amounts is considered a felony. North Carolina lists misdemeanor amounts as a maximum of 100 tablets. Hawaii’s maximum amount for a misdemeanor classification is 25 tablets. Other states, such as Alabama, have conceded that possession of any amount of anabolic steroids at all without a valid prescription carries a statutory maximum ten year sentence.
Federal law legislated Human Growth Hormone into the Steroid Trafficking Act of 1990, and HGH is not considered a controlled substance at the federal level. However, federal law in the United States has criminalized the trafficking of HGH without valid prescriptions or licenses. Violations of this law include imprisonment up to 5 years, and 10 years if HGH is sold to an individual under 18 years old. The following individual states have scheduled HGH as a controlled substance whereby only the unlicensed trafficking and distribution is a felony:
The following states have criminalized HGH use, possession, and distribution without a valid license or prescription:
- Rhode Island
- West Virginia
Prescriptions, as stated by federal law, can be written for legitimate medical purposes, and illegitimate medical prescriptions outside the scope of practice is considered invalid. Legitemate medical purposes are defined as disease symptoms, which has now opened to include those associated with general aging. The use of these hormones for the purpose of enhancing performance and the physique are considered a violation of law and medical recognition in the United States. Therefore, any individual looking to use Testosterone, any of its derivatives/analogues, or HGH for physique enhancement, muscle building, or performance enhancement will have to seek purchasing these products via the black market rather than through legitimate pharmacies.
What Are These Steroid Laws Doing? How Well Have They Been Working?
The answer to these two questions are painfully obvious: horrible.
Considering the initial implementation of these anabolic steroid laws was done with the intent by congress to curb anabolic steroid use and “cheating” among athletes, this actually has not been occurring at all what so ever. The fact is that through studies that have been conducted over the previous 20 years, a number of these studies conducted in the United States has determined that the average anabolic steroid user is in fact that of a middle-class heterosexual male of the average median age of approximately 25 – 35 years, and are neither competitive bodybuilders at any level, nor are they professional or amateur athletes at any level either, and these anabolic steroid users are simply utilizing anabolic steroids for purely cosmetic improvement purposes. Moreover, a 2007 study had demonstrated that 74% of all anabolic steroid users for non-medical purposes held post-secondary college or university degrees, and far less had failed high school than the average person typically expects of anabolic steroid users. That same study has also determined that the average anabolic steroid user held a much higher employment rate in addition to an overall higher household income than that of the rest of the general population. It can be concluded from this data that the truth in regards to anabolic steroid use among the general population are not athletes, are not teenagers or children, and are highly educated, law abiding, taxpaying, contributing citizens that are simply attempting to enhance their personal physique and performance in relation to their training in the gym.
With this having been established, it must first also be made clear that it is obvious that the majority of courts (both federal and state level) consider drug trafficking to be the much more concerning issue, and therefore deserving of the harsher penalties rather than individual personal users. However, with the state of current quantification of anabolic steroids defined previously in this article, it is impossible to consider an individual anabolic steroid user as a “user” under these definitions set forth by the US Sentencing Commission. As a result, the possession of what would be considered ‘large quantities’ under these guidelines insinuates that the person in question is a user instead of a dealer. When anabolic steroid laws and the offenders are concerned, simple anabolic steroid users are often treated and prosecuted as dealers based upon the quantity ceased by authorities, and this is the only determining factor without any other evidence of distribution. There have been many charges made with the intent to traffic based upon individuals who had confiscated amounts based upon less than 100 tablets or a small amount of vials/ampoules, which is very easy to see once many of the individual state laws are examined as outlined previously in this article.
The other important factor to consider is the fact that anabolic steroids are such a different type of drug than those it is wrongfully placed under the same category as. Anabolic steroids are hormones, and in order for them to be utilized for the purpose of performance and physique enhancement, they must be utilized in a particular manner that is so utterly different from any other type of drug use, there is no possible comparison to any other substance. The best method of qualitatively explaining this to the reader is through the comparison with other illicit drugs, such as cocaine or heroin. An individual who possesses 20 or 25 units of heroin or cocaine would, under state and federal law, insinuate the intention to traffic, sell, and distribute it. This is based upon the fact that the end user for these narcotics only frequently purchase enough for their immediate desired effect (the ‘high’). For example, a cocaine user seeking to use drugs on a ‘party night’ will only go out to buy enough cocaine for himself/herself for the immediate desired ‘high’, snorts it, and experience the immediate ‘high’. Once the effects of the drug on the body have dissipated, the user is then in search of more single units of the drug (or until the next time he or she has a ‘party night’).
Anabolic steroids are a vastly different case, where individual users research and plan their use over the long-term. Because anabolic steroid use entails a system whereby consistent administration is required due to the fact that the effects of anabolic steroid use are slow and gradual, anabolic steroid users will often purchase enough to last them the full cycle length without running out. Cycle lengths can range from periods of commonly 8 – 12 weeks in length or even longer. Anabolic steroids are also utilized in a specific dosed manner under a strict repeating regimen, as opposed to buying “grams” of this, or “ounces” of that and snorting or smoking it to experience an immediate effect. Instead, anabolic steroid doses among users are measured in their mg strength, and doses are administered either via injection or ingestion on a regular timed interval (e.g. 2 tablets of 50mg per tablet, with each taken 5 hours apart for 6 weeks, or a single 100mg injection performed every other day for 10 weeks). Different tablets can contain different amounts of the same anabolic steroid. For example, Dianabol can often be manufactured in 10mg tablets or 50mg tablets, and if an individual’s cycle plan is that of 50mg daily for 6 weeks and he only possesses 10mg tablets, this means he must buy 210 tablets of the 10mg to last him the full cycle length, as opposed to 42 tablets of the 50mg type. Therefore, many anabolic steroid users’ personal stock in their medicine cabinet at home that is stumbled upon by authorities is often wrongfully mistaken or viewed upon as a major distribution source.
Even Dr. Norm Fost, one of the world’s leading experts on the issue of anabolic steroid use for performance enhancement had this to say in an interview with attorney Rick Collins,
“Whatever the arguments about our regulatory system for narcotics and marijuana and so on, they simply don’t apply to steroids. This is not a source of violent criminal activity, school dropouts and all the social problems of illicit drugs. So putting this in that category strikes me as bizarre. If the government is really concerned about safety, if that is really the issue, the steroid situation screams for regulating the drugs through the FDA, and facilitating supervision by doctors. By driving this behavior underground, we have increased whatever risks exist by ensuring that safety studies are not performed, either short or long term. We have also lost control of manufacturing processes, so the user has no way of knowing what, in fact, he is using. The policy of a ban, coupled with criminal penalties, is even more incoherent if safety is the argument.”
Dr. Norm Fost continued to say the following in the same interview,
“Whatever ethical issues there are in the use of steroids in competitive sports, which, as I’ve said, I don’t think are worth the attention they receive, they disappear with non-competing personal use. We are not talking about unfair competition, we’re not talking about coercion, and we’re not talking about undermining the integrity of sport. This is pure personal choice, right up there with smoking, drinking, bungee jumping; that is, choices people make in life which they should be free to make.”
It is quite evident that through the statistical data and analysis of the steroid laws in the United States that the following goals have failed: protecting children and teenagers, eliminating doping and “cheating” in sports, and curtailing the anabolic steroid black market.
Protecting children and teenagers
Has failed. The use among teenagers has remained steady throughout the years following legislation of anabolic steroids. The associated media campaigns against anabolic steroids has actually fostered and fueled a greater want to use these substances among the general public, and the public display in the mass media of famous athletes who have been caught using anabolic steroids has only informed teenagers of which of their sports heroes have used anabolic steroids. The result is that various teenagers will develop the want to emulate them.
The elimination of doping and cheating by athletes
Has failed. The law that was developed never even ended up targeting these individuals whom the law was originally meant for. The use of anabolic steroids and performance enhancing drugs among professional and competitive athletes has not only remained constant, it has increased as more and more athletes are found year after year testing positive or found cheating by some other manner. Laws that concern the issue of cheating in sports should be maintained within the boundaries and realms of sport, not the general public where sports is not even concerned. The majority of anabolic steroid users, as determined by statistical data, are middle aged non-athletes that are law abiding, tax paying citizens.
Curtailing of the anabolic steroid black market
Has failed. As history has taught us, with any form of prohibition, the black markets boom with supply as demand rises. Prior to the enabling of anabolic steroid laws in the late 1980s and 1990, virtually no black market existed at all. Today, well over 80% of the anabolic steroids derived and used among the public are black market underground products. This market now contains over 80% of foreign-made products that are manufactured by underground labs in questionable conditions with no quality control. Compared to the manner by which anabolic steroids used to be acquired in the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s, the anabolic steroid laws today have actually created health problems and additional health risks associated with anabolic steroid use that did not exist prior to the Anabolic Steroid Control Act of 1990.
What the enacting of anabolic steroid laws has accomplished
- Frightened doctors and medical professionals away from the subject of Testosterone and anabolic steroid use for any purposes (even legitimate ones) to the point where the majority of physicians and medical professionals are highly uneducated on the subject.
- Completely halted and destroyed any prospective research. It is because of the sensationalizing of anabolic steroids and the stigma stapled to it that has held back the potential developments and research that could have benefited many people. It is because of this that so many individuals have unfortunately suffered a great deal and/or have died from disabilities, diseases, debilitations, and conditions that anabolic steroids could have been used as treatment for. Shortly after the Anabolic Steroid Control Act of 1990, many pharmaceutical companies halted the production and marketing of anabolic steroids in the United States, serving to further hold back any potential positive medical research and development. These companies included Ciba, Searle, Syntex, as well as many others. The legislation of anabolic steroids in the early 1990s and the negative stigma that has followed ever since has also raised the common question that if steroids are so deadly, why are they are manufactured by US pharmaceutical companies and prescribed as medicine to help people, but if one utilizes it for the purpose of physique and performance enhancement they suddenly supposedly become deadly?
- Ruined the lives of thousands upon thousands of average law-abiding taxpaying citizens by arresting them, throwing them in prison, and fining them. These people are/were not teenagers, nor are/were they athletes of any type.
Anabolic Steroid Laws Outside the United States
Lastly, every individual looking to engage in the endeavor of anabolic steroid use must be aware of the laws concerning anabolic steroid use in their respective country. Although the complete prohibition and criminalization of of anabolic steroids (buying steroids, selling, using, possessing anabolic steroids) is almost exclusively an American concept, there still exist laws internationally in other nations that do prohibit and curtail anabolic steroids to a smaller extent than the United States. The most prominent major countries in the world where anabolic steroid use is most prevalent will be covered here.
USA: In the United States, anabolic steroids are classified as a Schedule III drug in the Controlled Substances Act (CSA), originally legislated by the Anabolic Steroid Control Act of 1990 and in 1991 scheduled under the CSA as a Schedule III drug whereby possession and use of anabolic steroids are be considered a criminal offense. The Anabolic Steroid Control Act of 1990 defines anabolic steroids as “as any drug or hormonal substance chemically and pharmacologically related to testosterone (other than Estrogens, Progestins, and Corticosteroids) that promotes muscle growth”. Trafficking, importation, and the purchase of any anabolic steroid are treated as criminal acts. Possession of anabolic steroids carry penalties of at least 1 year in prison and a $1,000 fine for an individual’s first offense under federal law. Trafficking under federal law carries a five year prison sentence and a $250,000 minimum fine if it is a first-offense. Second offenses double the aforementioned penalties. Aside from federal law, individual states have also imposed additional varying state laws in regards to the illegal use and/or trafficking of anabolic steroids.
UK/England: In the United Kingdom, anabolic steroids fall under Class C drugs for their abuse potential, but are specifically scheduled as Schedule IV drugs, whereby possession and use of anabolic steroids is legal for personal use. Importing anabolic steroids for personal use and possession is also not a felony. Importation is legal when carried by the individual. Importation by postal services is illegal.
Canada: In Canada, a similar law to that of the UK runs true where anabolic steroids are classified as a Schedule IV drug, whereby possession and use of anabolic steroids is not a felony and is legal. However, trafficking of the substance is a felony. As stated in the Canadian CDSA (Controlled Drugs and Substances Act), trafficking penalties range from a maximum $1,000 fine for a first offense and/or maximum 6 months imprisonment to a maximum $2000 fine for subsequent offenses and/or maximum 1 year imprisonment.
Australia: Australia possesses perhaps the strictest anabolic steroid control laws in the whole world to the extent where many consider it to be tantamount to a totalitarian dictatorship. Under the Poisons and Drugs Act Amendment of 1994, the possession, importation, sales, purchasing, or use of anabolic steroids without a doctor prescription is considered a criminal offense. Penalties include 6 months imprisonment maximum with a possible fine of $5,000.