"Bath salts" are a new designer drug that has been making headlines around the world.
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The deadly drug known as bath salts is now illegal in Canada, the federal government announced Wednesday.
Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq said the white crystal-like chemical is now listed in the Controlled Drug and Substances Act, in the same category as heroin and cocaine. "That's why we have moved quickly to make the illicit drug known as 'bath salts' illegal to possess, traffic, import or export, unless authorized by regulation," Aglukkaq said in a release.
The drug, formally known as methylenedioxypyrovalerone (MDPV), can cause panic, psychosis and violent behaviour. It is a synthetic hallucionogen with severe short-term effects.
Head of the Toronto Police Drug Squad, Staff Inspector Randy Franks said the drug has not been around long enough for authorities to understand the long-term health effects.
"It's like crack cocaine in that people smoke it, ingest it or they shoot it up," Franks said. "The intended audience of this drug is young people."
Franks said one major seizure has taken place in Toronto, where it was among many drugs and weapons taken from a known drug dealer.
The drug has also been found in smaller communitites.
Franks says no connection has been made between MDPV and organized crime activity.
"I'm not trying to blame the Americans, but it probably came from the U.S.," Franks said. "That's where I saw it first."
MDPV gained notoriety in May when Rudy Eugene, 31, known as the "Miami face-eater", was shot dead by police while chewing the flesh from a man's face. Cops had suspected Eugene was high on bath salts, but testing later determined he wasn't.
In Louisiana, Carl Jacquneaux, 43, allegedly attacked his ex-wife's new lover and bit a chunk off his face while stoned on bath salts.
- with files from Jessica Hume