Joe Anderson has promised to fight the spread of the 鈥渮ombie鈥?street drug spice - but fears it is only a matter of time before it becomes a major issue on the streets of Liverpool.
Images from other cities like Manchester have shown scores of people left 鈥渇rozen鈥?by the terrifying strain of the drug which is being heavily used by rough sleepers and homeless people across the country.
There is already evidence that spice - which mimics the effect of cannabis, but is far stronger, unpredictable and can be fatal - is on Liverpool鈥檚 streets, and there are fears the situation could worsen.
In Manchester鈥檚 Picadilly Gardens, the sight of people being left incapacitated by the drug has become an all-too regular occurence and Mayor Anderson said he must act now to stop similar scenes in his city.
He said: 鈥淚 was in Manchester a couple of weeks ago and the situation is frightening, you see people in these states on every corner.
鈥淚鈥檓 afraid it is only a matter of time before the situation becomes as bad here, but we need to work on it now.
鈥淲e know it is on our streets and being used by people - we know homeless people are getting it.?/p>
Soon Mayor Anderson will be announcing his new Mayoral Leads on homelessness - who will be tasked with looking at and dealing with the reasons why people end up on the streets in Liverpool.
He said: 鈥淚 have already put the spice issue on the agenda for the taskforce.
鈥淲e need to use the intelligence we are getting from the streets to find out where spice is coming from, how it is getting here and how to stop it.
鈥淚f people are on the streets and they become desperate, that is when they will turn to things like spice - it is a real concern.
鈥淭his is a new phenomenon on the streets and we have to act now to stop it spreading and the taskforce will work closely with the police to do that.?/p>
He added: 鈥淭here are always those in society who will take advantage of desperate people and we need to find out who they are.?/p>
Shocking video footage taken in Manchester shows how the spice drug appears to freeze those who smoke it ?leaving them standing or squatting like statues. In some cases they then they keel over onto their faces.
Merseyside Police has previously told the ECHO that new legislation around previously 鈥渓egal highs鈥?such as spice have helped the force to tackle the issue in the city.
What is spice?
- The drug is a mixture of herbs and man made chemicals, which can have mind-altering effects.
- It is often called a 鈥榮ynthetic cannabis鈥?because the chemicals are designed to mimic the effects of the active part of cannabis called tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).
- Last May, a ban on legal highs came into force in the UK meaning it became a criminal act to produce, distribute, sell or supply such substances, if they are intended for human consumption.
- Some of the components found in certain packages of spice are illegal class B drugs, but those who make up the mixtures try to get round this by changing the ingredients.
That means that like with any drug, it is impossible for users to know for sure what it is they are buying and whether it contains an illegal substance.
- While some users may end up feeling happy and giggly, others can experience psychotic episodes, violent outbursts, extreme paranoia and breathing difficulties.