"You know, I said all along this whole Dust idea wasn't going to work. We spent five years developing this stuff... and it hasn't produced one single telepath of acceptable strength..."
- – Bester
Dust was designed with a genetic key that stimulates the telepathic gene present in many races. Though it was made primarily for Humans, it has been proven to also work on Narns even with their greatly diminished genetic telepath potential. The Psi Corps' intent was to increase the Psi strength of existing teeps, and perhaps to create new telepaths out of the mundane population. Despite all the effort put into the endeavour, they were never able to produce a single telepath of acceptable strength.
The telepathic abilities it would awaken in humans were unstable, creating a kind of "high" that would allow them to "go for a joyride" in someone's mind, reliving events from their life - sometimes their entire life - in a matter of minutes. The effects are highly addictive, and every time it is used it takes an increasingly large dose to get the same effect, making a very lucrative enterprise. Though the experience for the victim is always traumatic, when a telepath is violated, it usually leaves them so deeply affected they never fully recover.
Like any illegal substance that could turn a profit, dust was manufactured and sold by the criminal underground, producing it in underground labs and selling it in both small and large quantities.
The drug was originally developed over a period of five years in the late 2240s/early 2250s by Psi Corps' Department Sigma before being covertly introduced to the general populace. Not all in the Corps approved of its use. MetaPol Psi Cop Alfred Bester in particular vehemently opposed the project, reasoning that giving normals telepathic abilities was a horrendously bad idea for the Corps.
By 2257 Dust had already been recognised as a controlled substance by the Earth Alliance who had added it to the restricted items list of all EA customs checkpoints, including Babylon 5. Though Babylon 5 did encounter the odd isolated incident of dust, In 2260 a Mr. Lindstrom arrived on the station intent on trying to sell the drug to aliens, starting with the Narns. He was approached by citizen G'Kar who hoped to use it as a weapon against the Centauri, using a single sample dose on himself to attack Ambassador Londo Mollari. This was to be the end of the whole affair, though, as Bester was on Lindstrom's trail and aided B5 Security Chief Michael Garibaldi in busting Lindstrom along with his suppliers and seizing the shipment during the hand-over.