Is Pepper Spray Legal In Canada

Is Pepper Spray Legal in Canada?

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Canada classifies pepper spray under the criminal code as a prohibited weapon. This implies that average individuals are not permitted to have or use pepper sprays except for a few exceptions. The laws and regulations surrounding pepper spray differ from one province to another. One should observe the local legislation before buying or carrying pepper spray to avoid being charged with a crime.

This article will examine pepper spray laws in Canada comprehensively, highlighting federally prohibited weapon classification, relevant sections of the Criminal Code, provincial rules and licensing, concealing, intended use, and penalty considerations. Let’s also examine whether pepper spray is legal in Canada.

Federal Prohibited Weapon Classification

At the federal level in Canada, pepper spray is a prohibited weapon as per the Criminal Code. Prohibited weapons are devices that are deemed to be potentially dangerous and inappropriate for ordinary citizens’ use.

Some examples of other prohibited weapons listed in the Criminal Code include:

●       Firearms such as handguns, fully automatic guns, and sawed-off rifles

●       Explosive substances like grenades, rocket launchers, missiles

●       Brass knuckles, spiked wristbands, finger rings with blades or sharp points

●       Crossbows designed for one-handed use

●       Bows, slingshots, blowguns, spear guns

Much like these weapons, pepper spray is restricted for civilian use because it can potentially be used to inflict harm or injury. The Criminal Code states that any device designed for offensive purposes or concealment is prohibited.

Moving forward, let’s take a look at what different legal sections discuss. Is pepper spray legal in Canada?

Section 88 – Possession of Weapon for Dangerous Purpose

Section 88 of the Criminal Code explicitly covers the offense of carrying or possessing any weapon for a dangerous purpose. This is taken very seriously under Canadian law.

Even if someone has a seemingly valid reason for owning pepper spray, such as self-defense against an assault, the courts may still consider this an illegal possession. When a weapon is carried to inflict harm on other people, regardless of the circumstances, it is typically viewed as a dangerous purpose under Section 88.

If an individual is charged and convicted under this section, penalties can range from fines to jail time, depending on aggravating factors. The use of the weapon to threaten or intimidate people, prior criminal history, and other circumstances will be taken into account when determining an appropriate sentence. Harsher punishments typically apply to repeat offenders.

Section 89 – Carrying Weapon at Public Meeting

Section 89 of the Code covers weapons offenses in public places, especially public meetings. Carrying pepper spray to any public gathering or community event can lead to criminal charges.

This section is intended to promote public safety by prohibiting items that could be used to threaten or injure others at crowded venues. The law does not make exceptions even if someone claims they had pepper spray for personal protection. They were attending a public rally, protest, concert, or similar event while in possession of pepper spray, which is illegal.

If convicted of carrying a prohibited weapon, such as pepper spray at a public meeting, the sentence can include up to 2 years in prison, a fine, or both. These crimes are prosecuted as summary offenses via a summary trial process with no preliminary inquiry or trial by jury.

Section 90 – Carrying Concealed Weapon

It is important to note that pepper spray is considered a concealed weapon when carried in a way that hides it from plain sight. Section 90 of the Criminal Code explicitly covers the offense of carrying a concealed weapon or prohibited device.

For example, keeping pepper spray in a bag, purse, glove compartment, or pocket where it is not visible could be grounds for a charge under Section 90. To legally carry pepper spray, it must be worn openly on a belt or bandolier so others can see it. Concealing it from ordinary view makes it illegal, even if the person has a legitimate reason for carrying pepper spray for self-defense.

Like other sections, if convicted and sentenced, punishment can include jail time, depending on severity, along with substantial fines. Authorization from the Firearms Act is mandatory for concealed carry, which private citizens cannot access.

Section 91(2) – Possession of Prohibited Weapon

Section 91(2) explicitly covers possession of prohibited weapons without the requisite licenses and authorizations. Under this section, tear gas sprays like mace are classified as prohibited, just like pepper spray. Possessing mace or tear gas without the proper firearms license can lead to up to five years imprisonment.


Canada’s pepper spray laws are very complicated, mainly because the federal government classifies pepper spray as a prohibited weapon, and there are differences in provincial regulations. It is hard to get exemptions that allow private persons to own or carry pepper spray.

Only animals, not people, should be threatened during their defense. Concealing this substance as you carry it with you or bringing it into public events can easily earn someone a place behind bars. Always go through local legislation before buying or moving around with pepper spray.

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