Twenty Police and Crime Commissioners have urged the Government to make the so-called zombie drug Spice a Class A drug.
In a letter to ministers, the Police chiefs branded the Spice epidemic the “most severe public health issue” the UK has faced in decades.
They called the Government’s current approach “woefully inadequate”, and said dealers should face more severe penalties.
Marc Jones, Police and Crime Commissioner for Lincolnshire, supported by 19 other signatories, demanded tougher action from the Home Office.
The letter said that, “the challenges faced by synthetic cannabinoid substances are an urgent public health issue”, with the police shouldering much of the burden.
Jones wrote: “Our concerns not only lie with the devastating effects spice has on its users but also the wider negative impacts felt by their families, communities and emergency services.”
He added: “The wide scale abuse of these debilitating drugs within towns, cities and even villages across the UK is one of the most severe public health issues we have faced in decades and presently the response to tackle the issue is woefully inadequate.”
Upgrading Spice to Class A would place it alongside cocaine and heroin as a drug likely to cause the most serious harm.
Prison chiefs have warned that jails are saturated by the drug, and the NHS has described the epidemic as “beyond crisis point”.
A Home Office spokesman said it recognised how dangerous drugs such as Spice can be, but after having graded the drug Class B in December 2016, there were no plans to upgrade it at present.