The legal status of anabolic steroids differs from country to country. While some countries have strict controls on the use, purchase, sale, and distribution of these drugs, many countries have granted an illegal status to them. It is, therefore, always advised that one must have an absolute understanding about legal steroids and illegal steroids.
In the United States, steroids are presently listed as Schedule III controlled substances under the Controlled Substances Act that makes the simple possession of these drugs (first offense, without a prescription) a federal crime punishable by up to one year in prison. Similarly, unlawful distribution or possession with intent to distribute steroids in the United States is punishable as a first offense is punished by up to ten years in prison. The regulation of steroids by the federal government of the U.S. came under the jurisdiction of the Food and Drug Administration under the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act. 21 U.S.C.A. Sections 351, 352, 353, 355 (1981 & Supp. 1990) in the 1970s and 1980s. Criminal penalties were specifically set forth for traffickers after the Food and Drug Act was amended under 1988 legislation for traffickers in anabolic steroids for non-medical reasons.
The Anabolic Steroids Control Act of 1990, which became law on 29 November 1990, placed steroids in the same category as amphetamines, methamphetamines, opium, and morphine. The relevant sections of Title 21 of the U.S. Code are as follows: 21 U.S.C. 801 (authorizes restrictions on controlled substances); 21 U.S.C. 802(41)(A) (defines “anabolic steroids” as any drug or hormonal substance, chemically and pharmacologically related to testosterone that promotes muscle growth, and includes boldenone, chlorotestosterone, clostebol, dehydrochlormethyltestosterone, dihydrotestosterone, drostanolone, ethylestrenol, fluoxymesterone, formobulone, mesterolone, methandranone, methandriol, methandrostenolone, methenolone, methyltestosterone, mibolerone, nandrolone, norethandrolone, oxandrolone, oxymesterone, oxymetholone, stanolone, stanozolol, testolactone, testosterone, trenbolone, and any muscle growth promoting salt, ester or isomer of a drug or substance described or listed above); 21 U.S.C. 811 (criteria for classification of controlled substances); 21 U.S.C. 812 (c) (lists anabolic steroids as a Schedule III controlled substances); 21 U.S.C. 841 (b) (1) (D) (penalties for sale and possession with intent to sell anabolic steroids); and 21 U.S.C. 844 (penalties for simple possession of anabolic steroids). However, the U.S.FDA can grant a permit to individuals and their physicians to bring small quantities of drugs sold abroad into the United States for treating patient(s) of a serious condition for which effective treatment may not be available domestically.
A guidance entitled “Coverage of Personal Importations” that was developed by the U.S. FDA sets forth FDA enforcement priorities in relation to the personal importation of unapproved drugs by individuals for personal use. This FDA guidance permits individuals to import a three-month supply of an unapproved drug in the country, if the drug in question is believed not to characterize an unreasonable risk or if it will not be distributed commercially by the importer or if the anticipated use of the drug in question is for a serious medical complication for which no effective form of treatment may not be available domestically or if the individual importing the drug offers a affirmation in writing that the drug is meant for the personal use of a patient and the name and address of the doctor licensed in the United States responsible for his or her treatment is disclosed or if evidence is offered that the drug is for the continuation of a treatment that begun in a foreign country.
A bill for amending the U.S. Controlled Substances Act to effectively regulate anabolic steroids was recently proposed. The proposed bill, “Designer Anabolic Steroid Control Act of 2012,” will put buyers and users of anabolic steroids to an increased imprisonment of not more than 10 years, a fine not to exceed the greater of that authorized in accordance with the provisions of title 18, United States Code, or $500,000 if the defendant is an individual or $2,500,000 if the defendant is other than an individual, or both. The sale or possession of anabolic steroids without a valid medical prescription is illegal and simple possession of these drugs carries a maximum penalty of $1000 fine in the case of the first offense and the maximum penalty for trafficking is five years in prison and a fine of $250,000 if this is a first felony drug offense for the individual. The maximum fine and period of imprisonment both double up in case of second felony. The aim of this bill is to aggressively identify, target, and seeking to disrupt and dismantle large-scale foreign manufacturers of anabolic steroids who are violating laws in the country.
In Canada, anabolic steroids and their derivatives are Schedule IV substances and part of the Controlled drugs and substances act. This means that it is illegal to sell or obtain them without a prescription though possession is not punishable. An imprisonment of 18 months can be imposed for those guilty of buying or selling anabolic steroids in Canada.
Anabolic steroids are also termed illegal without a medical prescription in countries like Australia, Argentina, Brazil, and Portugal while they can easily be purchased without a prescription in countries such as Mexico and Thailand. The use and purchase of steroids are legal in countries such as Pakistan, India, Ukraine, Turkey, Romania, Serbia, Bulgaria, Egypt, Lebanon, Colombia, Syria, and Sri Lanka. In the United Kingdom, steroids are listed as Class C Controlled Drugs and import of steroids into the country is illegal with effect from 23 April 2012 but steroid possession is legal for personal use and people can bring their steroids into the country for personal use. This means that one can buy legal steroids without getting into complications.
Sports associations like the Fédération Internationale de Football Association, the Olympics Committee, the National Basketball Association, the National Hockey League, and the National Football League have already imposed restrictions on the use of anabolic steroids and other performance enhancing drugs.