Pepper spray is legal in many countries as a form of self-defence. When sprayed into the face of an attacker, it causes immense pain and discomfort, allowing the person being attacked to escape.
However, it is illegal to carry and use in some countries, including Canada.
Read on to learn more about pepper spray in Canada, including the penalties for carrying it, exceptions to pepper spray legislation and legal alternatives.
It is not legal to carry pepper spray in Canada. Pepper spray, also known as mace, is a prohibited weapon in Canada.
Even if you have used pepper spray legally in another country, when you are in Canada, you cannot buy, carry or use it for any purpose.
The law is very clear, and you can be charged with a criminal offence if you are found to be in possession of pepper spray. Penalties can be serious, leading to a criminal record and even imprisonment.
As a prohibited weapon, it cannot be produced, sold, carried or used. This includes products similar to pepper spray, including harmful liquid sprays or gas that can cause injury.
What kind of penalties are in place for people caught carrying pepper spray in Canada?
Carrying pepper spray is classified as an offence, but there are several different possession offences to be aware of.
In the Criminal Code, several sections refer to this, including Sections 88, 89, 90 and 91.
These cover different offences, including possessing a weapon for a dangerous purpose, which carries the potential for a prison sentence of up to 10 years.
Other sections cover carrying a weapon (e.g. pepper spray) in public, carrying a concealed weapon and unauthorized possession of a prohibited weapon. These carry penalties ranging from a fine up to two or five years in prison.
While this gives you a general overview, the penalties vary depending on several factors. However, you can see that the penalties can be severe, so you should not risk carrying pepper spray in Canada.
There is one exception to be aware of: carrying sprays designed to be used on pests.
In this case, pests are not just insects but can also relate to animals causing problems or posing a danger – including bears.
As such, bear spray or bear mace is legal in Canada. However, the spray you purchase must be qualified as a pest control product.
However, there are exceptions to the rule. For example, if you are walking through a city or another location where bears are not a threat and carrying bear spray, you could still get into trouble. But, again, it will depend on the specific circumstances.
Also, using bear spray on humans is not permitted and could lead to charges being brought against you.
There are many other weapons and firearms that are illegal in Canada, and they are described as prohibited weapons.
These include any weapons that are designed to harm, immobilize or incapacitate someone, whether they discharge gas, liquid, powder, etc.
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In addition, a weapon can be anything that is designed to intimidate, harm or threaten another person.
This is quite a general definition, but it includes items like:
- Sawed-off shotguns
- Automatic firearms
- Knives opened using a spring action
This is not a full list, and many other weapons could fall under the description of a prohibited weapon.
Be aware that rules are strict, and if you are carrying a weapon that could harm someone, there’s a good chance you are committing an offence.
Pepper Spray Alternatives in Canada
So, what can you use as a form of self-defence in Canada?
You have to be careful because you are not able to use many self-defence items that might be legal in other countries.
One option is a personal alarm. These small devices can be carried in your hand and often double up as keychains. They produce a very loud alarm when you activate them, alerting others to the situation.
They are highly effective and legal in Canada. However, they are more effective where other people will hear the alarm and are not so effective in isolated areas.
You might want to carry a small bottle of hairspray, which is legal to carry on you. Just be aware that if you use it on a person, even in self-defence, you could get into trouble, depending on the specific situation in which you use it.
What self-defence weapons are legal in Canada?
You can carry a personal alarm in Canada as a form of self-defence. However, pepper spray, guns, and many other items are not permitted.
Is bear spray legal in Canada?
Yes, bear spray is legal in Canada. It is an essential item if you are hiking in bear territory, but you could potentially get in trouble for carrying it in an area with no bears.
Are tasers legal in Canada?
No, tasers are illegal in Canada and are considered a prohibited weapon.
Can you use bear spray for self-defence in Canada?
You can only use bear spray against animals and not against humans. If you used it on another person in self-defence, you could be committing a criminal offence.