The key ingredient in a new, highly addictive street drug known as "bath salts" has been banned in Canada.
Under new federal rules announced Wednesday by Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq, methylenedioxypyrovalerone (MDPV) is "illegal to possess, traffic, import or export, unless authorized by regulation," according to a news release.
The white, powdery MDPV is used to create bath salts which can reportedly cause hallucinations, paranoia and violent behaviour in some cases.
A number of police agencies across Canada have issued warnings in recent months about the synthetic drug spreading north from the United States.
Bath salts contain a number of amphetamine-like chemicals, including MDPV, a synthetic cathinone similar to the active ingredient in the drug khat that's chewed in parts of East Africa and in Yemen.
MDPV had not been regulated in Canada, but is now designated under Schedule 1 of the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act – the same category as heroin and cocaine.
Researchers in Canada will still be able to use MDPV in scientific studies despite the ban, but they will need to seek an exemption from the regulation.
U.S. President Barack Obama signed a bill into law in July banning several drugs, including bath salts, south of the border.
Bath salts captured international headlines in May after media reports suggested the perpetrator of a face-eating attack in Miami was high on bath salts. However, it eventually came to light there was only marijuana in the attacker's system.
The move to ban MDPV is being billed as a way to help Canadian law enforcement agencies overcome problems in combatting the spread of bath salts.
As a synthetic product, drug-sniffing dogs and urine screening tests can miss bath salts. It is also difficult to track down because the drug is being packaged and sold as an authentic consumer product with labels that describe it as real bath salts, plant food or insect repellent, and say "not for human consumption."
In a statement, Toronto police Staff Insp. Randy Franks called Wednesday's announcement "an important step in stopping organized criminal groups from acquiring and profiting from" the new drug.