The government will this week recommend a synthetic drug known as monkey dust be reclassified as Class A, Sky News can reveal.
The psychotic drug was linked to a spade of violent attacks in the US and has since become popular in parts of the UK.
A government source said the drug is “devastating communities” and “the classification needs to meet the severity of the drug”.
There have been calls for the drug, currently a Class B substance, to be reclassified after emergency services described an “epidemic” of violent patients hooked on the drug in Stoke-on-Trent.
Police officers in the West Midlands warned of a “public health crisis” in 2018 when police in Staffordshire were receiving around 10 calls a day about incidents relating to monkey dust.
Since then, the drug has remained popular in parts of the country and has reportedly been sold for as little as £2.
In recent months Conservative backbencher Jack Brereton has been campaigning for the reclassification – urging constituents to sign an online petition.
On his website, the MP for Stoke-on-Trent said the drug “ruins lives, tears families apart, and leads to anti-social behavior in our city.”
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Monkey dust also goes by the name of MDPV. Sometimes labeled as “bath salts”, they were readily available at American petrol stations, bookshops and convenience stores before they were outlawed in 2012 by Barack Obama.
The drug stops users from feeling pain, leads to hallucinations and causes severe paranoia. It reportedly leaves some users feeling like they have “Hulk-like strength”.
People who use it commonly believe they are being chased and often try to climb buildings and lash out at anyone around them – and it has been linked to horrific face-eating attacks in the US.
The government will be recommending the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD) reclassify monkey dust, a government source said the review is “overdue”.