OTTAWA - The federal government is banning a key ingredient found in the street drug known as bath salts.

The compound, called MDPV, will now be treated the same as cocaine or heroin.

Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq says the new rules make it illegal to possess, traffic, import or export the substance.

The compound can be used in legitimate research if authorized by regulation.

The minister says the decision to ban MDPV follows concerns expressed by health officials about the health and safety risks associated with its use.

She says police and the Canada Border Services Agency are also concerned about the substance’s growing popularity and availability.

The government stressed that people shouldn't confuse MDPV and its street name with legitimate bath products.

The street drug may resemble the legal product, but is said to have mind-altering properties.

The Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police welcomed the ban, calling it "an important step in stopping organized criminal groups from acquiring and profiting from this illegal substance."

Related on HuffPost:

Loading Slideshow...
  • Bath salts

    This photo, courtesy of the Federal Drug Enforcement Administration, depicts what a packet of bath salts can look like.

  • Carla Murphy

    In Pennsylvania in July 2012, Carla Murphy had a baby, then allegedly took bath salts and attacked nurses and cops. <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/07/06/carla-murphy-had-baby-smoked-bath-salts_n_1653979.html" target="_hplink">Read more.</a>

  • Matthew Hammond

    Matthew Hammond allegedly snorted "a lot" of bath salts, ate feces and then challenged a cop to a fight, with predictable results in Georgia in July 2012. <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/07/11/matthew-hammond-snorted-bath-salts-feces_n_1664687.html" target="_hplink">Read more.</a>

  • Rudy Eugene

    A medical examiner in Miami-Dade County confirmed that bath salts weren't to blame in the case of infamous naked face-eating suspect Rudy Eugene. <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/06/27/rudy-eugene-face-marijuana-medical-examiner-results_n_1632253.html" target="_hplink">Read more.</a>

  • Bath Salt Naysayer?

    A nude man in Florida was caught on tape in early July 2012 humping the air and screaming "Bath Salts are BAD for you!!!" <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/07/03/nude-man-in-venice-beach-_n_1645108.html" target="_hplink">Read more.</a> <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1KPhfWfBCak&list=UUf2tYKAm6wPNCNxfEXzbc4A&index=1&feature=plcp" target="_hplink">Entire video </a>from Youtube user gnomicmedia.

  • Shane Shuyler

    Shane Shuyler allegedly exposed himself to a 3-year-old while on bath salts in Florida in June 2012. <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/06/12/shane-schuyler-bath-salts-indecent-exposure_n_1589547.html" target="_hplink">Read more.</a>

  • Brandon DeLeon

    21-year-old homeless man allegedly growled "I'm going to eat you" and tried to bite a cop while cruisin' on some bath salts and Four Loko in Miami in June 2012. <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/06/05/brandon-deleon-high-on-cloud-9_n_1570560.html" target="_hplink"> Read more.</a>

  • Ronald Sellers

    Ronald Sellers of Tennessee was allegedly early on the bath salts trend. According to authorities, the man hallucinated a burglary and called the cops to his home while high on the street drug way back in February 2012. <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/02/29/bath-salts-hallucinations-burglars-ronald-sellers_n_1311189.html" target="_hplink">Read more.</a>

  • Bahad Mahmoud

    A drugged-out Mahmound was arrested in Louisville in June 2011 for disorderly conduct, among other charges, after cops found him drinking hand sanitizer. <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/06/15/man-drinks-hand-sanitizer-louisville_n_877335.html" target="_hplink">Read more.</a>

  • Robert William White

    A crazed 20-year-old man said to be high on the synthetic drug bludgeoned an elderly woman in the head in late June 2012, according to authorities. He claimed he was an alien who talked to Jesus. (<em>Los Angeles Times </em>reported.) <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/06/25/robert-william-white-la-bath-salts_n_1624688.html" target="_hplink"> Read more.</a>