Legally Weird - The FindLaw Legal Curiosities Blog

When Can At-Home Science Experiments Get You Arrested?

Conducting science experiments at home is a dying practice among Americans young and old. Over the past few decades, at-home science kits have faced increasing scrutiny and regulation as a result of incidents involving homemade drugs and explosives.

While at-home science kits still exist, they frequently lack many of the most basic chemicals that interested individuals actually need to conduct experiments. This is due not only to the manufacturer's fear of legal liability over individuals using the chemicals to make explosives or cause others harm, but also as a result of laws prohibiting the distribution of certain chemicals and lab equipment.

If you are considering doing some science at home, then you may want to think twice and check your state's laws before getting started. Law enforcement is not kidding around when it comes to this stuff, and have even arrested children for doing science.

Buying Hazardous or Explosive Chemicals

While this seems to make sense, the list of prohibited chemicals and substances vary from state to state. However, the prohibited chemicals frequently pale in comparison to the weapons a person may be able to legally buy in many states without so much as a background check. And that's not to mention the fact that common household cleaning products often contain dangerous chemicals that can be used to make (what Florida considers) an explosive device. Under federal laws, buying or selling certain chemicals across state lines can also be illegal, and result in arrest and prosecution.

Making Science Go Boom!

As any amateur, backyard, or even professional scientist can attest to, making chemicals react, particularly when it results in a bang, pop, smoke, or giant foam-splosion, is just downright, wholesome fun and good TV . However, due to the post 9/11 world we live in, where heightened security and the fear of domestic and foreign terrorism are constantly thrust upon us, the laws governing explosions pretty much makes many fun experiments violations of criminal law. If you're going to make something go boom, check your state and local laws first.

Making Drugs Is Seriously Illegal Science

In addition to buying illegal or regulated chemicals, and making things explode, making drugs at home, particularly illicit drugs, is very illegal. As the popularity of designer drugs, MDMA, and methamphetamine, increased throughout the 90s, many states passed laws that focused on eliminating at home science labs. The unfortunate result of these laws was that the same science kits that children had used as their gateway to careers in science lost the gusto that inspired.

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