- Pepper spray, commonly referred to by the brand name “Mace”, can be used or carried by people as a potential mode of defence against potential attackers.
- Legislation first enacted in 1995 designated pepper spray as a prohibited weapon.
- The Firearms Act, included in the Criminal Code of Canada, defined firearms as non-restricted, restricted, or prohibited, each designation carrying with it different criminal consequences for possession, production or sale.
- The Firearms Act also introduced new legislation for other weapons as well. This included knives and spray devices, such as pepper spray.
- The Criminal Code was amended so that the definition of a prohibited weapon could be much broader.
- The Code specifically states that a prohibited weapon is:
- Any device designed to be used for the purpose of injuring, immobilizing or otherwise incapacitating any person by the discharge therefrom of
- tear gas, mace or other gas, or
- any liquid, spray, powder or other substance that is capable of injuring, immobilizing or otherwise incapacitating any person.
- In addition, the term “weapon” has been defined to include anything designed, intended or used to cause death or injury to another person or to threaten or intimidate.
- While some people may consider pepper spray to be a reasonable mode of defence against potential perpetrators it is a prohibited weapon, as defined by the Firearms Act.
- Therefore carrying pepper spray is a criminal offence punishable by imprisonment for up to 10 years.
- Some people disagree with this classification as they argue that people should be able to legally defend themselves against attackers without risking criminal charges.
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Is Pepper Spray a Prohibited Weapon?
- Under Canada’s Firearms Act, pepper spray is considered a prohibited weapon.
- This designation as a prohibited weapons denotes that pepper spray cannot be produced or sold in Canada.
- As well, it is a criminal offence in Canada to manufacture, sell or use products that are similar to pepper spray.
- In the case of pepper spray “similar” means any gas, powder, or liquid spray that is capable of injuring or immobilizing a person is prohibited.
Is it illegal to bring pepper spray into Canada?
- it is a criminal offence to bring pepper spray into Canada as it is classified as prohibited as it is therefore not allowed into the country.
- If you are caught in Canada, or going into Canada at the Canadian border, with pepper spray, you could be criminally charged, prosecuted and if convicted face potential jail time and a criminal record.
Are there any Exceptions?
- There exists one exception that allows for the use of pepper spray without the potential consequence of a criminal conviction.
- While pepper spray is illegal in Canada to carry or use as a potential mode of defence there is one exception. Pepper spray can be legally purchased and used in Canada if:
A) The spray clearly indicates on its dispenser that it is intended for animal, such as bear mace, and not human use
B) The spray must qualify as a pest control product under Canada’s Pest Control Product Act.
- That being said, if you are found to using animal spray repellent as a pepper spray for personal protection, you can still be charged with a criminal offence.
- For instance, if you were to be found carrying pepper spray in your bag or purse in a normal setting you would most likely be charged with a criminal offence.
- If you have been charged with a criminal offence for carrying pepper spray or any other criminal offence there are defences available to you. Contact Kostman and Pyzer, Barristers today for your free consultation!