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Methcathinone is a pharmacologically active compound having a chemical structure very similar to that of the psychomotor stimulants,

Figure 7-13.-Physiological effects of ecstacy.

methamphetamine and cathinone. It may be considered an analogue of these two stimulants. Cathinone is the primary active ingredient in the Khat plant. The leaves (containing cathinone and cathine) of the Khat plant are chewed for their euphoric and stimulant effects. Cathinone is currently in Schedule I of the 1971 Convention of Psychotropic Substances. On February 4th, 1993 in order to meet the obligations of the Psychotropic Convention, cathinone was permanently place on Schedule I of the FCSA. As of October 15th 1993 methcathinone was permanently placed in Schedule I of the FCSA. Cathinone is not available for medical use in the United States.

Other names for methcathinone include methylcathinone, L-enantriomenc, ephedrone, monomethylpropion, N-monomethylcathinone, a-N-methylaminopropiophenone, 2-(methylamino)-propiophenone, a-(methylamino)-propiophenone, a-N-methylaminopropiophenone, 2-(methylamino)-1-phenylpropan-1-one, AL-464, UR1431, and UR(W)1431.Ephedrone is the primary name used to indicate methcathinone in the scientific and medical community in Russia where ephedrone abuse has been and still is a big problem.

The actual effects of methcathinone in humans has only been reported to a limited extent in the scientific or medical literature. Anecdotal reports from the street indicate that methcathinone produces central nervous system stimulant effects similar to those produced by amphetamine, methamphetamine, and cocaine. Desirable effects have been reported from the use of methcathinone include a speeding mind, increase feeling of invincibility, and euphoria. Undesirable effects reported by people using methcathinone in binges primarily include paranoia, hallucinations, nervousness, insomnia, stomach pain, sweating, dehydration, anorexia, increased blood pressure, and pounding of the heart. The duration of the high is several hours and will depend somewhat upon the dose given.

Doctors working in the emergency rooms of a number of hospitals have been warned about the possible toxic effects of methcathinone. As of December 1993, U.S. scientific literature has described four emergency room cases of methcathinone. Also, at least one report in the scientific literature has briefly mentioned that ephedrone has caused deaths in the Soviet Union. No documentation for these claims was provided by the authors.

A very limited number of studies in laboratory animals indicate that methcathinone produces psychomotor stimulantlike effects similar to those produced by amphetamine, methamphetamine, cathinone, and cocaine.

Methcathinone is sold on the street in the hydrochloride salt form under the street names of "cat," "crank," "goob", and "speed." It is sold as a white to off-white powdered material, similar to cocaine. To date, only the L-enantriomeric form of methcathinone has been found on the street.

The primary route of administration is intranasal. The powdered material is cut into lines which is then snorted up into the nose in a manner similar to that of the snorting of cocaine. Methcathinone is also known to be administered by intravenous injection, smoking, and oral ingestation. Methcathinone is primarily used in a binge which last 2 to 7 days, during which time the person repeatedly administers the drug every 20 minutes to 2 hours. Each dose given ranges from 1/16 of a gram to 1/4 of a gram.

The clandestine synthesis of methcathinone appears to have started sometime around 1989 or 1990. Michigan law enforcement officials first became aware of methcathinone in January 1991. The first actual street sample (confirmed by analysis in the crime laboratory) of methcathinone was obtained by law enforcement officials in Michigan in February, 1991.

Methcathinone has been heavily abused in the former Soviet Union. It first appeared in the Soviet Union in 1982. By 1986 methcathinone was extensively trafficked and was a major drug of abuse. There it is known, not as methcathinone, but as ephedrone. It is sold on the streets in the liquid form supposedly under the street name Jeff.

Methcathinone is made by the oxidation of ephedrine in clandestine laboratories. In the United States, the primary source of ephedrine is from pharmaceutical warehouses where large numbers of 25-mg ephedrine tablets can be purchased. Oxidation is accomplished using a suitable oxidizing agent such as sodium bichromate (primary oxidizing agent used in the United States) or potassium permanaganate (used in Russia). A base is required for the extraction and suitable acid is required for conversion to the acid salt form.

As of 1 January 1994, approximately 49 clandestine laboratories making methcathinone have been seized by federal, state and local law enforcement agencies in six different states. Some of the materials characteristically found in these laboratories include filled and empty bottles of 25-mg ephedrine HCI tablets, sodium bichromate, acids such as battery acid, epson salts, Red Devil lye, toluene, acetone, coffee filters, magnetic stirrers, and various types of chemical glassware.

Ephedrone, illicitly trafficked in Russia, is made in clandestine laboratories, also via the oxidation of ephedrine. The ephedrine is obtained from solutions of ephedrine hydrochloride that is obtained from various ephedrine preparations made in Czechoslovakia and Bulgaria. The principal route of oxidation uses potassium permanganate in the presence of acetic acid.

It is important that all encounters with methcathinone be reported to the DEA, particularly to the Drug and Chemical Evaluation Section, Office of Diversion Control. This should be done by contacting your local NCIS office.

The finished product, methcathinone HCI,

contains at most only very trace amounts, if any at all, of the base. Analysis of cat samples by the DEA Chicago Laboratory has shown that the methcathinone is very pure (95 percent to 100 percent pure). If there are any impurities, then it would be most likely unreacted ephedrine and dimerizatons products. Also note that the cat contains at most trace amounts, if any, of battery acid.


Today the legal use of amphetamines is limited to the treatment of narcolepsy (a rare disorder resulting in an uncontrollable desire for sleep), peritonitis behavioral disorders in children, and certain cases of obesity. The amphetamines are synthetic, nonnarcotic dangerous drugs related to a group of compounds generally known as sympathomimetic amines that act like adrenalin on the body. Amphetamines have a marked stimulating effect on the central nervous system.

Amphetamines are widely used by such people as truck drivers and night watchmen to stay awake or increase alertness. They measurably increase the body's ability to perform physical tasks for a short time. Amphetamines are also used to counteract the effects of depressant drugs.

Amphetamines appear in capsule, tablet, or liquid form. They are most often taken orally but can be injected.

Amphetamine abuse creates mental but not physical dependence. Abuse can also lead to erratic behavior and serious mental disturbance. Severity of psychotoxic effects increase when the drugs are injected intravenously. Some doctors feel that amphetamine abuse can lead to pronounced personality change. Additionally, there is a possibility that excessive amounts of amphetamines can lead to permanent organic damage to the brain.

The illicit use of amphetamines closely parallels that of cocaine in the range of its short-term and long-term effects.

Despite broad recognition of the risks, clandestine laboratories produce vast quantities of amphetamines, particularly methamphetamine, for distribution on the illicit market.


Another form of amphetamine is called speed because of its rapid stimulation of the central nervous system. The term speed also includes other stimulants and amphetamine-like substances but is most related to methamphetamine because of the stronger reaction. It appears in capsule, tablet, or liquid form, or as a powder in paper or foil packets,

Normal therapeutic doses of amphetamines may be from 5 to 15 milligrams, but drug abusers ("meth heads" or "speed freaks") inject many times that amount-perhaps hundreds or thousands of milligrams in a single dose due to the tolerance they have developed.

With some people, the fascination with speed lies in the initial effect of the drug. Upon injection, a rush or intense feeling of euphoria often results. The rush, like that associated with heroin, has been compared to a sexual orgasm. For this reason, speed is supposed to have aphrodisiac qualities for some users. In others, impaired sexual potency has been reported. Usually, as the abuse progresses, there is a reduction of sexual interest.

The "speed run" is a prolonged period of time over a few days or a week, where the abuser injects methamphetamine as often as is necessary to feel the desired results. During this period, the speed freak usually does not eat or sleep. Initially, he or she may feel a sense of paranoia; then becomes overly suspicious, hallucinates, and is overactive. The combination of suspicion, hyperactivity, impulsiveness, and irrational thinking has often resulted in aggressive and destructive behavior. After a speed run, the abuser crashes and is in a state of depression and exhaustion. A period of sleep usually follows, lasting from 24 to 48 hours. Upon awakening, the speed user feels depressed and miserable.


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