Is It Illegal To Make Moonshine In Canada ?


 Canada Moonshine Laws Explained

To be clear, it’s illegal to make moonshine without a license from the federal government.  The following will apply to you if you live in Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba, New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, Ontario, Prince Edward Island, Quebec, Saskatchewan, Northwest Territories, Nunavut, and Yukon.  The act of making a mash thus making alcohol is not illegal. However owning a still for the purposes of distilling your mash is illegal unless you have a permit to own that still. That said it is perfectly legal to own a still to make distilled water or essential oils just don’t get caught distilling alcohol in it. If you’re willing to throw down the time, money and pain involved in getting a Federal liquor distiller’s license, you can make your own moonshine all day long legally. It’s just that it’s really expensive and a huge hassle to get that license.

If you would like to apply for a permit to distill spirits you will have to apply for a Federal Licence first. I’ve attached this document that will guide you through the process. The law that requires you to obtain a permit for distilling spirits in Canada is the Excise Act (2001), it basically states that you cannot produce sprits or operate a still in your home without a federal permit. You may also have to apply for Provincial permits depending on the province you live in.

The same thing also use to be true of fermenting beer and wine – it was only legal to do if you got a Federal license before starting. And that was a big hassle. Prior to May 1985 a Canadian citizen required a permit from the government to brew beer and wine at home. In May 1985 the government of Canada changed it’s laws surrounding the home brew industry and no longer required individuals making beer and wine at home to apply for permits to do so.

After that, any adult was allowed to brew as much beer and wine for personal use at home as they wanted.  You couldn’t sell it but after 1985 could brew and drink it yourself, no license required. This will hopefully someday be the case for the home distilling industry. Let’s all get on board and make it happen!

Can I Get Arrested for Making My Own Moonshine ?

Found this on Reddit which is pretty interesting :

“I spoke to a friend that’s an officer regarding distilling, and he recommended that I call my local department. He assured me that I wouldn’t be hauled away in cuffs for asking. I’ve already built my still, but I was curious to know what legal risks I was actually taking.

I left a message for the constable (on my cellphone) and he called me back a few days later. I told him that I was homebrewing and was interested in distilling. I would be making small batches for personal consumption (typically a liter or two at a time).

His answer surprised me a little. Distilling without a license is illegal under the federal Excise Act- which is typically not enforced at a provincial level. The Excise Act is tax law, and the goal of it is to limit people cheating on their taxes. He is not aware of anyone that has ever been charged for distilling alcohol for small amounts of personal consumption, however he wanted me to be aware that it was quite possible.

I asked him, realistically, if someone filed a complaint with the police department, would it be investigated…

He said “likely not”, unless it was being sold, produced in large quantities, provided to a minor, or if injury occurred from producing/consuming it.

He recommended that I do not distill alcohol because it is technically illegal, but above all, don’t be a dumbass. Be safe and responsible.

Just thought I’d share with my fellow Canucks.”

From what I’ve been able to gather from the online community is that if you distill at home for personal consumption not much will come of it as long as you don’t sell it! To support this theory I tried to dig up some cases in Canada where people were either charged or arrested for making moonshine.  Here are some examples of cases involving someone who was caught producing Moonshine in Canada.

Senior citizen faces several charges after Mounties discover moonshine operation

A Surrey man has been arrested after RCMP found “moonshine” liquor and an illegal still at a Newton home.

A Surrey man has been arrested after RCMP found “moonshine” liquor and an illegal still at a Newton home.si-bc-110915-surrey-moonshine

Mounties executed a search warrant Wednesday on a home in the 12500-block of 70th Avenue and located five large barrels containing about 200 gallons of “moonshine” in various stages of fermentation.

The homemade booze was found in a trailer at the rear of the property.

Investigators also found another 30 containers of distilled spirits.

Police alleged the moonshine was being sold to walk-up customers from a basement window of the family home on the property, where three adults were living.

Click Here to Read More.

Police make bakery ‘moonshine’ bust In Toronto

David Tavares, 58, owner of La Rosa’s Bakery on Augusta Avenue in Kensington Market was charged with selling moonshine from their store front and is being charged under the Ontario’s Liquor Licence Act. Undercover officers purchase illegally produced alcohol from the bakery.  When police raided the Bakery they seized 4 litres of illegal alcohol and $800 cash.

click here to read the original story from CBC news.

In both of these cases the people in question were selling the moonshine which is presumably why they got arrested. In fact after several hours of searching I wasn’t able to find a single person who was charged for simply making moonshine in their basement without an intent to sell it! If you’ve found a case such as this in Canada please share it in the comments section.

Is It Legal To Own A Non – Alcohol Producing Still (for water distilling and essential oils

That’s the age old question here say I have a still but I don’t use it for making alcohol instead I use it to distill water and essential oils. How does the law in Canada address this issue ? I’ve seen arguments on either end of this argument. On one hand some say that as long as you don’t get caught distilling alcohol in the still you can’t be charged. On the other hand I found this information online that seems to discredit this opinion.

Here is an example of the laws restricting you from owning a still in Ontario, Canada. Now remember the Excise Act of Canada is applicable to all of Canada and then each province have their own legislation for example in Ontario it’s the Ontario Liquor Licence Act.

  • You cannot own a Still in Canada without a licence :  The Excise Act of Canada Section Chapter E14 Section 130(1) and (2) provide for the issuance of a license, with a required bond, to distill spirits.  In addition, Excise Act of Canada Section Chapter E14 Section 3.1 says that ““still” means any distilling apparatus whatever adapted or adaptable to the distillation of spirits”.  Therefore any still is prohibited because it could be adaptable to distillation of spirits, even if it has not actually been so adapted.
  • What is maximum fine?  The Excise Act of Canada Section Chapter E14 Section 158(1) provides that “1) Every person who, without having a license under this Act then in force, (a) distils or rectifies any spirits, or makes or ferments any beer, wash or wort, (b) assists in distilling or rectifying any spirits, or in making or fermenting any beer, wash or wort, in any unlicensed place, (c) imports, makes, commences to make, sells, offers for sale or delivers any still, worm, rectifying or other apparatus suitable for the manufacture of spirits or for the rectification of spirits, or any part of the apparatus, (d) completely or partially sets up or assists in setting up, prepares or partially prepares for working, any such still, worm, rectifying or other apparatus, (e) has in his possession, in any place, any such still, worm, rectifying or other apparatus, or any part or parts thereof, or any beer, wash or wort suitable for the manufacture of spirits, except in cases of duly registered chemical stills as provided for in this Act, or in whose place or on whose premises those things are found, (f) conceals or keeps, or allows or suffers to be concealed, or kept, in any place or premises owned or controlled by him, any such still, worm, rectifying or other apparatus, or part thereof, or any beer, wash or wort suitable for the manufacture of spirits, or (g) conceals by removing, or removes, or assists in concealing by removing or otherwise, any such still, worm, rectifying or other apparatus, or part thereof, or any beer, wash or wort suitable for the manufacture of spirits, is guilty of an indictable offence and liable to (h) a fine of not more than ten thousand dollars and not less than five hundred dollars, (i) imprisonment for a term not exceeding twelve months, or (j) both fine and imprisonment”.  In addition, Section  R.S.O. 1990, c. L.19, Section 61(3) provides that “Upon conviction for an offence under this Act, other than a contravention of subsection 30 (1), (2), (3), (4) or (4.1), (a) a corporation is liable to a fine of not more than $250,000; and (b) an individual is liable to a fine of not more than $100,000 or to imprisonment for a term of not more than one year or both”.
  • What is maximum fine?  Section  R.S.O. 1990, c. L.19, Section 61(3) provides that “Upon conviction for an offence under this Act, other than a contravention of subsection 30 (1), (2), (3), (4) or (4.1), (a) a corporation is liable to a fine of not more than $250,000; and (b) an individual is liable to a fine of not more than $100,000 or to imprisonment for a term of not more than one year or both”. In addition, Section  R.S.O. 1990, c. L.19, Section 61(3) provides that “Upon conviction for an offence under this Act, other than a contravention of subsection 30 (1), (2), (3), (4) or (4.1), (a) a corporation is liable to a fine of not more than $250,000; and (b) an individual is liable to a fine of not more than $100,000 or to imprisonment for a term of not more than one year or both”.
  • Can still be seized?   Yes.  The Excise Act of Canada Section Chapter E14 Section 158(2) provides that “All stills, worms, fermenting-tuns, rectifying or other apparatus suitable for the manufacture of spirits, or for the rectification of spirits, or parts thereof, and all beer, wash, wort or spirits that are found in the possession of any unlicensed person, or in any unlicensed place, shall be forfeited to the Crown, and shall be seized by any officer, and may either be destroyed when and where found or removed to a place of safe-keeping in the discretion of the seizing officer”.
  • In addition, Section  R.S.O. 1990, c. L.19, Section 47(1) provides that “A police officer may seize any thing, including liquor, if, (a) he or she reasonably believes that the thing will afford evidence of an offence under this Act;   (b) he or she reasonably believes that, (i) the thing was used or is being used in connection with the commission of an offence under this Act, and (ii) unless the thing is seized it is likely that it would continue to be used or would be used again in the commission of an offence under this Act…”.
  • Can additional property be seized?  Yes.  R.S.O. 1990, c. L.19, Section 46 provides that “Liquor kept for sale or offered for sale in contravention of subsection 5 (1) and liquor purchased in contravention of section 27 is forfeited to the Crown”.  In addition, Section  R.S.O. 1990, c. L.19, Section 47(1) provides that “A police officer may seize any thing, including liquor, if, (a) he or she reasonably believes that the thing will afford evidence of an offence under this Act;   (b) he or she reasonably believes that, (i) the thing was used or is being used in connection with the commission of an offence under this Act, and (ii) unless the thing is seized it is likely that it would continue to be used or would be used again in the commission of an offence under this Act…”.
  • What is maximum fine?  Section  R.S.O. 1990, c. L.19, Section 61(3) provides that “Upon conviction for an offence under this Act, other than a contravention of subsection 30 (1), (2), (3), (4) or (4.1), (a) a corporation is liable to a fine of not more than $250,000; and (b) an individual is liable to a fine of not more than $100,000 or to imprisonment for a term of not more than one year or both”.
  • Can property be seized?  Yes.   The Excise Act of Canada Section Chapter E14 Section 158(2) provides that “All stills, worms, fermenting-tuns, rectifying or other apparatus suitable for the manufacture of spirits, or for the rectification of spirits, or parts thereof, and all beer, wash, wort or spirits that are found in the possession of any unlicensed person, or in any unlicensed place, shall be forfeited to the Crown, and shall be seized by any officer, and may either be destroyed when and where found or removed to a place of safe-keeping in the discretion of the seizing officer”. In addition, R.S.O. 1990, c. L.19, Section 46 provides that “Liquor kept for sale or offered for sale in contravention of subsection 5 (1) and liquor purchased in contravention of section 27 is forfeited to the Crown”.    In addition, Section  R.S.O. 1990, c. L.19, Section 47(1) provides that “A police officer may seize any thing, including liquor, if, (a) he or she reasonably believes that the thing will afford evidence of an offence under this Act;   (b) he or she reasonably believes that, (i) the thing was used or is being used in connection with the commission of an offence under this Act, and (ii) unless the thing is seized it is likely that it would continue to be used or would be used again in the commission of an offence under this Act…”.
  • What is maximum jail time?  See above.
  • Can still be seized?  Yes.  The Excise Act of Canada Section Chapter E14 Section 158(2) provides that “All stills, worms, fermenting-tuns, rectifying or other apparatus suitable for the manufacture of spirits, or for the rectification of spirits, or parts thereof, and all beer, wash, wort or spirits that are found in the possession of any unlicensed person, or in any unlicensed place, shall be forfeited to the Crown, and shall be seized by any officer, and may either be destroyed when and where found or removed to a place of safe-keeping in the discretion of the seizing officer”.
  • Can additional property be seized?  See above.

If you’ve got experience with these law’s, have been charged or are a layer in Canada I would love to hear your opinion on the issues surrounding this. Please drop us a line in the comments section!

 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *