A group of police and crime commissioners (PCCs) have called on the Government to reclassify the synthetic drug known as "spice" to class A status.
In an open letter to the Home Office, the 20 Conservative PCCs from across the UK said the drug presents the "most severe public health issue" in decades.
Spice is a synthetic narcotic that mimics the effects of cannabis - including the potential to trigger hallucinations, psychosis and paranoia - and has blighted streets across the country.
It is currently a class B drug, and is illegal to produce, supply or import, although campaigners want it to become class A in recognition of the harm it can cause.
The open letter, from Lincolnshire PCC Marc Jones and signed by 19 colleagues, says: "We are of one mind that the challenges faced by synthetic cannabinoid substances are an urgent public health issue that is growing in size and demand upon public services and currently disproportionately upon policing."
It adds: "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.
"We acknowledge that much is needed to fully address the problems Spice presents within our communities and it is clear that this complex issue can only be addressed collaboratively.
"We feel that in order for PCCs to support Government in tackling this issue that further central clarity and leadership is vital to raise this as a public health challenge.
"Ensuring local partners are clear what expectation is being placed on them to work in consonance with policing in order to ameliorate this problem for the good of society at large is key to that."
The drug is particularly popular among members of the homeless community, while videos of users in a zombie-like state have gone viral in recent years.