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Homemade Drug Laws

By Christopher Coble, Esq. | Last updated on

The first thing that pops into most people's minds when they think about homemade drugs is Walter White, or some less glamorous meth lab in someone's kitchen. And it's true that quite a few folks are cooking up illegal drugs at home using completely legal ingredients they bought online or in stores.

But is it possible you could be making a homemade drug and not even know it?

Cleanse or a Cure?

At first glance, the FDA's guidance on distinguishing between a cosmetic and a drug seems pretty laughable. We all know the difference between mascara and marijuana, right? But it turns out some homemade products can classify as both, depending on the product's intended use. A cosmetic's intended use is "cleansing, beautifying, promoting attractiveness, or altering the appearance," while a drug's intended use is the "diagnosis, cure, mitigation, treatment, or prevention of disease" or "to affect the structure or any function of the body."

For example, if you simply make your own shampoo, that would likely just be a cosmetic. But if you make your own antidandruff conditioner, that might classify as both, since the conditioner is intended to treat dandruff. The FDA points out that some other cosmetic/drug combos might be "toothpastes that contain fluoride, deodorants that are also antiperspirants, and moisturizers and makeup marketed with sun-protection claims."

Drug Distinctions

While this distinction may not matter if you're just using these products yourself, you may decide they work so well you want to sell them. And even though cosmetic products and ingredients don't require FDA approval before sale, most drugs do.

So if you've got an amber extract that smells nice and you want to sell it to friends, you're probably OK. But if you've got a homemade tea or tincture designed to fight a cold, you may need to talk to the FDA before going to market.

And if you got arrested trying to synthesize the next big thing in psychedelics using nothing more than baker's yeast and some household cleaning products, well, you might need to talk to an attorney.

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