Is Pepper Spray Legal in Canada?

By Last Updated: October 17, 2023

Is Pepper Spray Legal in CanadaNo, pepper spray is considered a prohibited weapon in Canada and is therefore illegal. If you are found in possession of pepper spray, you can be charged with a criminal offence.

The penalties for weapon offences in Canada are very serious, including long-term imprisonment and a criminal record. Below we go into more detail on why it is a crime to carry pepper spray in self-defence, if you can bring pepper spray into Canada, and whether there are any exceptions under the Canadian weapons laws.

What is a Classification of a Prohibited Weapon?

The Canadian criminal code includes an extensive list of prohibited weapons outlined in the Regulation Prescribing Certain Firearms and Other Weapons as Prohibited or Restricted. The regulation lists all types of weapons from crossbows to rocket launchers and classifies pepper spray, commonly known as mace, as a prohibited weapon.

According to the Regulation, the definition of a prohibited weapon includes any weapon designed to cause an injury, immobilize or incapacitate by a discharge of gas, such as tear gas or mace. Moreover, any device discharging liquid, spray, powder or other substance that can cause injuries, immobilize or incapacitate is also considered a prohibited weapon.

According to the Criminal Code, the term weapon can include anything intended or designed to cause death or injuries, threaten or intimidate any person. Given the generality of this definition, possessing or carrying pepper spray falls under the scope of the Criminal Code and is considered a criminal offence.

Weapon Offence Under the Criminal Code

The act of possessing or carrying mace is classified as an offence. In the Criminal Code, there are several types of possession offences outlined in Sections 88 through 91.

Section 88 – Possession of a Weapon for Dangerous Purposes

Any person who possesses or carries a weapon for any purpose, dangerous to the public, or for any illegal purposes commits an offence. Pepper spray falls under the definition of a weapon, therefore, anyone possessing pepper spray in Canada can potentially face criminal charges. The punishments vary depending on whether the Crown proceeds summarily or by indictment based on the severity of the offence. It can potentially amount to ten years in prison.

Section 89 – Carrying Weapon While Attending Public Meeting

The Criminal Code also makes it illegal to carry mace while in public. According to the Criminal Code, a person carrying a weapon while attending a public meeting or on the way to such a meeting commits an offence. Such offences are prosecuted summarily with penalties ranging from a fine up to imprisonment for the term not exceeding two years or both.

Section 90 – Carrying Concealed Weapon

Pepper spray, when concealed, can make you liable for the offence of carrying a concealed weapon. The Criminal Code makes it illegal for anyone to carry a weapon unless such a person is authorized to carry concealed weapons under the Firearms Act. The penalty for concealed carry of pepper spray varies depending on whether the Crown proceeds summarily or by indictment. It can amount to five years in prison.

Section 91(2) – Unauthorized Possession of Prohibited Weapon or Restricted Weapon

Possessing a can of mace can lead to criminal liability under another section of the Criminal Code, prohibiting unauthorized possession of a prohibited or restricted weapon. According to Section 91 (2), possessing a prohibited weapon without holding an appropriate license is an offence which can be punishable either summarily or by indictment, with a maximum penalty amounting to five years in prison.

Is It Illegal to Bring Pepper Spray Into Canada?

Pepper spray is classified as a prohibited weapon under the Criminal Code, therefore, bringing it into Canada is illegal. Individuals caught with pepper spray while crossing the Canadian border will be face sanctions, including possible jail time and a criminal record.

According to the Criminal Code, when a prohibited weapon is imported into Canada, they are guilty of an indictable offence with potential jail time up to 10 years. The minimum sentence is one year.

Are There Exceptions to Pepper Spray Legislation in Canada?

The only available exception from pepper spray laws relates to sprays designed for use on pests. According to Canada’s Pest Control Product Act, the term ‘pest’ includes an animal that is injurious, noxious and troublesome. Based on this definition, your bear mace fits seamlessly into the category of pest-control products, which are legal in Canada.

However, if you are found carrying bear mace in a location not associated with bears or wildlife, you can be charged with a criminal offence for possessing or carrying a weapon. Due to the expanded interpretation of the term ‘weapon’ in the Criminal Code, anything which is designed to cause injury, incapacitate or intimidate can be considered a weapon.

Using bear spray on humans is prohibited and can lead to criminal charges.

What Should I Do if I Have Been Charged with a Weapon Offence?

Canadian weapons laws can be complicated and allow broad application. Meanwhile, the penalties for offences related to weapons, including pepper spray, can be devastating and lead to long-term incarceration and a criminal record, hurting the chances of finding a job, renting a home, and gaining permanent residence.

If you have been charged or investigated with a weapon offence related to pepper spray, bear mace or any other prohibited weapon, don’t hesitate to contact our Calgary criminal defence lawyers at Strategic Criminal Defence. Call us at 1-866-939-5940 or reach out through our website for a free consultation on how we can help in your case.

About The Author

Michael Oykhman

Managing Partner

Michael Oykhman is a senior lawyer and founder of Strategic Criminal Defence, a full-service criminal law firm with central law offices across Western Canada and Ontario.

My professional experience consists of countless court appearances and thousands of successful defences and satisfied clients. Over the last 10 years, I have worked to build a law office where all the lawyers share our collective experience, resources, and passion to help people. Our team approach to legal representation is client–rather than only law–centred. We look for opportunities to add value to our clients through strategic thinking and creative solutions.

Ask A Question

We endeavor to respond to questions within 24 hours. If your matter is urgent, please call our office or submit a request for a free consultation.

Client Reviews

Michael Oykhman is a very professional lawyer and the first time I spoke to him he asked about my situation and he gave me some very helpful advice and assistance and also told me his odds of winning this case. During the days I was in contact with micheal I could feel the level of professionalism of him and his team, he is able to respond back to you with any questions you have within 24 hours. In the end he was as successful in helping me win my case as he had initially promised me.If you are still struggling to find a lawyer, I highly recommend Michael Oykhman.


Please give yourself a favour and contact Mr. Michael Oykhman if you need any legal advice or if you are in a terrible situation. Even-tough, the odds are not in your favour, still they will go extra miles to help you out in bad situation and get you favourable outcome. Moreover, They will work on your file even after the business hours. I don’t have words to say thanks to Mr. Michael oykhman and Kiran Cheema who had worked on my file and get me out of trouble. I’m very grateful for your assistance and exceptional service. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.


I am grateful that Ms. Moira McAvoy was my lawyer, and I remain thankful to her for everything. She made a successful resolution to my case possible. Ms. Moira McAvoy is a professional, trustworthy lawyer, and a compassionate person. She is an excellent listener and knowledgeable of the law. From the start, she was an excellent guide. I did not know anything about the legal system and court, and she outlined everything clearly in advance, so I could understand things. She never rushed me through anything. She spoke clearly, explained everything, considered what I said, and provided options and advice. She kept me up to date on new information, requirements, and deadlines. She was always positive and this helped so much.


Ryan Patmore and his team are simply the best. I was bullied by CPS in 2020 and it landed me with three separate charges, assault, refusal to blow and DUI, which all went down as I was parked at a friends. After some research and a conversation with Michael, he directed me towards Ryan and at the time I didn’t know that would be a game changer in my favour! He is honest, transparent, helpful and a brilliant mind. He successfully appealed my license suspension with ATSB and then proceeded to get the crown to dismiss all my charges before trial. I never had to step foot inside a courtroom. If you are in need of a criminal defence lawyer, don’t think twice, get in touch with this firm and ask for Ryan Patmore! The guy is an absolute saviour.


Joseph Beller, from the very beginning when I first contacted and then retained Joseph as my representative I felt I was in good hands. When I emailed him with a question. I got a prompt response. We communicated often on the phone as needed. Joseph kept me informed as to the process. He made sure I knew all the potential results so I knew and could plan for the different outcomes. I know this his his job. But appreciate his professionalism and also his ability to not make me feel any extra stress. Well done.