Intelligence Report: Methcathinone
by Illinois State Police
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Illinois State Police
(Disseminate to Criminal Justice Agencies Only)
Number: 93-HQ-0034 December 10, 1993
The Intelligence Bureau recently received a report from the Michigan State Police, Criminal Investigation Division, Narcotics Unit concerning the spread of Methcathinone (CAT), a "new" drug which has appeared in that state. A copy of that document, well-written and extensively researched by Lieutenant Richard Killips of the Michigan State Police, is attached with permission from the Michigan State Police. The following is a brief summary of Lieutenant Killips' study.
In January 1991, the Michigan State Police learned of a new drug
being sold in the city of Marquette. First thought to be the legitimate
substance ephedrine, the drug was later determined to be methcathinone
(also known as n-methylcathinone), a central nervous system stimulant.
Methcathinone was patented in the United States in 1957 by Parke
Davis Company of Detroit, Michigan. It first surfaced as a drug abuse
problem in the former Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR). In-
vestigators in the United States believe that an individual involved in
the manufacture of methamphetamine discovered information on methcath-
inone. The recipe was then passed on to an associate who successfully
produced the drug in Marquette, Michigan. The formula has since been
sold on the street for up to $1,000. Because of its highly addictive
nature and the craving for more which it creates, the drug, though a
saleable item on the street, is often consumed by those who produce it.
The manufacturing process, especially when compared to that for
methamphetamine, is relatively simple. Furthermore, the ingredients to
produce methcathinone are readily available and may be purchased and
possessed legally. Those chemicals used in the process include ephed-
rine, sulfuric (battery) acid, potassium (or sodium) dichromate, lye,
toluene, acetone, muriatic acid and epsom salts. Tools used in the
process consist of glass jars, tubing (glass, plastic or rubber), pil-
low cases or sheets, coffee filters, rubber gloves, a heat source (e.g.
hot plate) and funnels.
The finished product is usually an off-white chunky powder with no
There is currently no field test available for CAT. Methamphet-
amine and cocaine reagents have proven ineffective. Negative tests on
unknown substances should be submitted to Illinois State Police Labs
PACKAGING, PRICING and PARAPHERNALIA
Packaging is the same as that for cocaine. Prices for gram quanti-
ties range from $75 to $100 and ounces have been sold for $800 to
$1,000. The cost of production of CAT is approximately $400 per kilo-
Paraphernalia used with CAT is similar to that used in cocaine abuse.
USE and EFFECTS
CAT, (also referred to as Goob, Star, Wonder Star, Crank and
Sniff) is usually snorted. It is also being injected, sprinkled onto
marijuana and smoked or mixed with a drink and taken orally.
Use patterns, according to the Drug Enforcement Administration,
are similar to those seen in methamphetamine abuse. Desirable effects
of the drug, according to users, include relief from fatigue, a burst
of energy, increased sex drive and a feeling of toughness and invinci-
bility. Undesirable effects include paranoia, dehydration, anxiety and
frightening hallucinations. Because of these effects police officers
should use caution when dealing with persons that may be under the
influence of methcathinone. The combination of the feeling of tough-
ness, invincibility, paranoia and hallucinations make the user extreme-
As in any chemical lab situation. officers should use extreme
caution. According to MSP chemists, some of the ingredients, improperly
mixed, pose the danger of explosion. Other ingredients are highly flam-
mable, acids can cause chemical burns, and potassium dichromate, if
inhaled, could be fatal.
Methcathinone (CAT) is not to be confused with the khat plant of
Africa. Khat is a shrub, the leaf of which is chewed and is a central
nervous system stimulant. Khat contains cathinone which is related to
methcathinone in the same way amphetamine is similar to methampheta-
CAT has spread to Wisconsin, Indiana, and has been confirmed in
the state of Washington. Since the first incident in Michigan, authori-
ties have seized 28 clandestine laboratories in that state. In Indiana,
four labs have been seized and 14 more have been identified. Michigan
authorities feel the substance, if not already here, will soon be con-
firmed in Illinois.
A video tape which accompanied the MSP report to the Illinois
State Police is available for review. Copies of this video tape have
been forwarded to the Division of Forensic Services and the six Illi-
nois State Police area commands.
If the Intelligence Bureau can be of further assistance to you in
dealing with this potential problem, please do not hesitate to call CIA
Supervisor J. E. "Buck" Ballow, Intelligence Bureau, Illinois State
Police, at 217/785-0632.
Methcathinone: A Law Enforcement Challenge
D/F/Lt. Richard Killips
Michigan State Police
Criminal Investigation Division
June 21, 1993
Report Restricted Police Use Only
History of Methcathinone
In January of 1991, officers from Michigan's Upper Peninsula Sub-
stance Enforcement Team (UPSET) learned from an informant of a new drug
being sold on the streets of Marquette. The drug, called "CAT" re-
portedly gave users a "high" similar to that of cocaine but the effects
were stronger and lasted longer. The informant made a buy of the drug
for UPSET and the substance was taken to the State Police Crime Labora-
tory in Marquette where laboratory scientist Robert Kelly analyzed it.
After the initial test Kelly advised UPSET that they had purchased
ephedrine, a legal, easily obtainable substance. Kelly thought more
about it and was unsure of his preliminary finding. More complex tests
were performed that ruled ephedrine out, but the identify of this sub-
stance remained a mystery. A sample was sent to the Sterling Heights
laboratory for testing in their instrument that interfaces with a com-
puter database of known substances. The computer was unable to match
the sample. Kelly then studied chemical reference books and was finally
able to determine that the substance was methcathinone, a potent analog
The methcathinone purchases in Marquette was the first seized by
law enforcement in the United States. In Chicago, DEA laboratory scien-
tist Terry Dal Cason was not surprised by the news of the appearance of
methcathinone, but rather that it had taken so long to appear. Dal
Cason had researched the drug and the problems the former Soviet Union
has had with the methcathinone that is being produced in clandestine
Although the drug first surfaced as a problem in the USSR, it was
patented in 1957 in the United States by the Parke Davis Co. of De-
troit. Methcathinone is an analeptic (central nervous system stimu-
lant). According to the patent methcathinone has a very high degree of
analeptic activity (stimulation) higher than that of amphetamine.(2)
The Parke Davis research estimated that methcathinone is approximately
1.5 times more potent than amphetamine. Other research supports the
potency claims listed in the patent.(3) After completing animal re-
search Parke Davis for unknown reasons did not initiate human studies
and dropped development of the drug.
There has been some confusion that "CAT" or methcathinone was
developed to copy the khat plant of Africa. Khat is a shrub, the leaf
of which is chewed and is a central nervous system stimulant. It has
gained notoriety as of late because it is chewed by Somalians and the
press has been reporting about it. Dr. James Tolliver of the DEA Drug
Evaluation Section in Arlington, Virginia advised that khat contains
cathinone, which is similar to methcathinone (in the same way amphet-
amine is similar to methamphetamine). However the cathinone content of
the khat plant was not discovered until the mid 1970's. Methcathinone,
remember, was invented some twenty years before. There is no indication
that those involved in the manufacture or sale of the drug are trying
to pass it off as a derivative of the plant. Although there appears to
be no connection between the plant and the manufactured drug, press
stories linking the two will likely continue.
Investigators believe that a suspect who was researching the chem-
istry involved in the manufacture of methamphetamine came across the
information on methcathinone. Although it appears he did not produce
methcathinone himself he passed along the knowledge of how to manufac-
ture it to an associate who in turn started to make the drug in Mar-
quette. The formula or "recipe" as it is called on the street was then
sold freely to anyone who wanted it. The initial cases that came to the
attention of narcotics officers started in Marquette but have since
spread west throughout the Upper Peninsula and into Wisconsin.
The materials and chemicals needed to produce methcathinone are
legal to purchase, possess, and easy to obtain. The procedure followed
to manufacture the drug is relatively simple (especially when compared
to methamphetamine) and persons with no chemistry training have been
making the drug.
Chemicals Used to Manufacture Methcathinone
EPHEDRINE: This is a legal substance that is used as a bronchodilator
and found in over the counter cold and allergy medicines. It is also
sold as a stimulant in party stores, gas stations and truck stops. It
can be mail ordered in large quantities from magazines.
SULFURIC ACID: Battery acid available at any auto parts store.
POTASSIUM (OR SODIUM) DICHROMATE: An industrial strength cleaning agent
available through industrial cleaning supply stores.
LYE: Crystal drain cleaners like Red Devil and Drano are used for the
lye. It appears that the Red Devil brand is preferred.
TOLUENE: A high grade paint thinner, that can be bought in multi-gallon
quantities from paint stores.
ACETONE: A solvent available at paint and hardware stores.
MURIATIC ACID: This is used as a cleaner in masonry work and for clean-
ing pools and is sold at hardware and pool supply stores.
EPSOM SALTS: Available at many stores in any community.
MATERIALS NEEDED INCLUDE:
Glass jars (pickle jars, canning jars, etc.)
Glass, plastic, or rubber tubing
Pillow cases or sheets
Heat source such as hot plate or stove
The finished product, if properly made, is an off white chunky
powder. The methcathinone produced in clandestine labs does not have a
consistent texture but will appear chunky as if there is moisture still
There is currently no commercially available field test kit for
methcathinone. The test kits used for methamphetamine and cocaine are
of no use with methcathinone. Officers who get a negative field test on
an unknown substance should not conclude that it is probably some type
of cutting agent and should send it to the crime laboratory for analy-
Packaging, Pricing & Paraphernalia
The packaging methods for methcathinone have thus far been the
same as those used for cocaine. Folded paper packets (sno-seals), small
glass vials, and plastic baggies are being used. Prices for gram quan-
tities range from $75-$100. Ounces have been sold for $1,000 or more
but because of the glut of methcathinone in the certain areas the price
has dropped to $800. It costs approximately $400 to make on kilogram
(2.2 lbs.). If sold in ounce quantities that $400 investment could
bring in $26,000 or more.
Paraphernalia used with methcathinone is similar to what is found
with cocaine and includes:
* Straws, pens with center removed, coke spoons, rolled currency.
* Mirror and razor blades.
* Deering grinders (cocaine grinders)
* Needles, syringes, cotton balls, spoons, belts.
l Methcathinone is usually called "CAT" on the street but it has
also been called:
* WONDER STAR
Use and Effects
Methcathinone is usually snorted. It is also being injected,
sprinkled into marijuana and smoked, and in a few cases mixed into a
drink and taken orally.
Most users report that they binge on the drug using it repeatedly
over a several day period. Some have reported using for up to five
days. They quit when they run out. When they crash most sleep for several days, feel very depressed and many contemplate suicide.
The frequency and the amount of the dose vary from person to per-
son. Some may snort 1/8 of a gram and not need another "hit" for a
couple of hours. Others may use a smaller amount and use more again
every 20-30 minutes. According to Dr. Tolliver of the DEA the use pat-
terns are typical of those seen with methamphetamine. The DEA recently
completed a study of methcathinone use by monkeys and the conclusion
was that methcathinone has a high abuse potential for humans.
According to users the desirable effects include;(4)
* Relief from fatigue.
* Burst of energy
* An increased sex drive.
* Body Rush
* Feeling of toughness, invincibility
* Speeding of the mind, increased alertness
* Sociability, talkativeness
Undesirable effects include:
* Loss of appetite
* Dehydration (they tend not to drink while on binge)
* Stomach aches
* Frightening hallucinations.
Police officers should use caution when dealing with persons that
may be under the influence of methcathinone. The combination of the
feeling of toughness, invincibility, with paranoia, and hallucinations
could easily make an individual a danger to other citizens and to police.
The chemicals used to manufacture methcathinone do pose a threat
to persons who may come into contact with them. According to Robert
Kelly if some of the chemicals are mixed improperly, there is a danger
of explosion. Acetone and toluene are both highly flammable. The acids
used can cause chemical burns. Potassium dichromate is inhaled could be
In addition to the dangers involving a clandestine laboratory
there is the problem of clean up of the site. The EPA considers a law
enforcement agency that discovers a lab the producer of the hazardous
waste found there and that agency is therefore responsible to pay for
the clean up. The clean up is done by private companies and can be
quite expensive. Costs of clean up of sites thus far in the Upper Pen-
insula have ranged from $3,000 to $13,000 and in any given case it
could be much higher.
Because State Police officers are not trained or equipped to oper-
ate safely in a clandestine laboratory environment we have relied on
the DEA to raid the labs and seize the chemicals. The DEA also pays the
cost of clean up of the site. A problem that is occurring quite often
now is the discovery of inactive abandoned lab sites. These are found
in wooded areas, motel rooms, and vehicles. The local authorities don't
know what to do with what they have found. Another problem is the dis-
covery of labs in vehicles after traffic stops by patrol officers.
Because of the danger of the chemicals, and concerns of clean up costs,
evidence (fingerprint lifts from jars, etc.) is not being collected as
it should be.
In Marquette, a group has been formed to try and develop policies
to address what to do when abandoned labs and chemicals have been dis-
covered. The group is called the UPCC (Upper Peninsula Cat Coalition)
and is made up of the Sheriff's Department, UPSET, State Police Emer-
gency Management Division, the Marquette State Police Forensic Labora-
tory, local police agencies, the DNR, the county health department, and
the prosecutor. Their research and findings could prove to be a model
for other jurisdictions with similar problems.
Since 1991, 28 clandestine methcathinone laboratories have been
seized in Michigan. One raided in May of 1992 in Watersmeet was de-
scribed by the DEA as the largest methcathinone lab seizure worldwide
to date. There was enough chemicals and materials on site to produce
over 35 pounds of methcathinone.
In January of 1993 the Michigan State Police , UPSET, and the DEA
formed a task force to investigate clandestine labs in the Upper Penin-
sula. Initially it was hopped that through use of buys, informants and
the surveillance of precursors that officers could somewhat easily
locate and raid lab sites. When methcathinone first appeared in Michi-
gan the persons "cooking" the drug were buying their own chemicals
taking them home and setting up the lab. But investigators were to
learn that the method of operation has changed. Officers found that
groups of suspects were forming, and that most persons in the group
were trading precursor chemicals to the "cooker" in exchange for
finished product. Many of these groups consumed most if not all of
their product themselves and therefore were not selling "cat." In many
cases the persons buying the precursors would not know the location of
the lab. They were sitting on the chemicals for days making surveil-
lance too costly and inefficient.
To counter these problems investigators have taken a different
approach. They are tracking (through cooperative store owners) purchas-
es of different chemicals and building conspiracy cases against the
individuals within the groups. Several labs have been discovered when
officers have served federal "document" search warrants. Currently the
conspiracy cases are being handled through the federal system, however,
just recently a few possession with intent to deliver methcathinone
cases have been initiated in the state courts.
Studies have shown that methcathinone is likely to be abused. The
precursor chemicals needed to make it are easy, cheap, and legal to
obtain and possess. The procedure followed to make "Cat" is relatively
simple and the profit potential from making and selling the drug is
tremendous. Couple all these facts together and it is easy to see why
"Cat" will likely spread throughout Michigan and nationwide.
(1) Terry A. Dal Cason "The Identification of Cathinone and Methcathi-
none," MICROGRAM, Vol. XXV, No. 12, December 1992
(2) U.S. Patent 2,302,865 Aug. 13, 1957 pg. 1
(3) Richard Glernnon, Mamoun Yousif, Noreen Naiman, Peter Kalix, "Meth-
cathinone: A New and Potent Amphetamine-like Agent," PHARMACOLOGY BIO-
CHEMISTRY & BEHAVIOR, Vol. 26, pp. 547-551 (Pergamon Journals Ltd.,
(4) Data compilation by Dr. James Toliver information obtained from
users interviewed by police and treatment officials.
1. Good Morning. I am John Boyer, an Intelligence Analyst with the
Detroit Field Division Intelligence Group. I am here this morning to
brief you on N-Methylcathinone, or as it's more commonly known, Cat.
2. I have spend several weeks in Michigan's Upper Peninsula con-
ducting a strategic analysis of the Methcathinone problem. During this
problem, I'll discuss what Cat is, how it's made, the physical effects
of Cat use, where Cat came from, how it was introduce to the UP, who's
using it and why, how it spread westward into Wisconsin and elsewhere,
and where it's going.
3. My analysis is based on DEA and Michigan State Police investi-
gative reports, DEA and Michigan State Police Intelligence files, grand
jury records and testimony, and interviews with federal, state, and
local law enforcement officers as well as interviews with cooperating
1. Other Names: 2-methylamino-1-phenylpropan-1-one,
monomethylpropion, UR 1431, methcathinone, Cat, goob, go-fast, crank,
sniff, star, wonder star, ephedrone, and wild cat (when mixed with
cocaine). A new name for Cat has recently surfaced in Wisconsin where
some bikers are calling it "bathtub speed." In Russia, Cat is sold
under the street name "Jeff."
2. Description: Cat is a potent psychomotor stimulant developed by
the Parke-Davis Company in the early fifties as an alternative to meth-
amphetamine. Cat is a synthetic analog of cathinone, a naturally occur-
ring stimulant found in Khat (Catha edulis). Cat is easily synthesized
in a laboratory, garage, basement, apartment, or camp site through the
oxidation of ephedrine and other readily available over-the-counter
3. How Cat is Made:
a. Ephedrine pills are crushed, dissolved in distilled water,
and drained through coffee filters into any quart size jar or larger.
b. Sodium dichromate is dissolved in sulfuric acid (battery
acid) and the solution slowly added to the ephedrine.
c. Sodium hydroxide (Red Devil Lye or Drano) is dissolved in
distilled water and added to the ephedrine-acid solution to form a
d. Toluene is added next to extract the Methcathinone base from
e. The toluene-Cat solution is skimmed off the top of the base
solution and epsom salts (magnesium sulfate) are added to remove the
f. The toluene-Cat mixture is filtered and muriatic acid is
bubbled into the mixture to make Cat Hydrochloride and to form the Cat
g. The Cat HC1 is filtered out of the toluene and acetone added
to purify the Cat HC1 and make it white.
h. The Cat is then dried and ready for use.
NOTE: In Russia, Cat is synthesized by the reaction of ephedrine and
potassium permanganate. The reaction liquid contains ephedrone, benzoic
acid, 1-phenoxypropane-1, 2-dione, unreacted ephedine, and also inor-
4. How Cat is Taken:
a. The preferred route of administration is snorting. Cat be-
gins to quickly destroy the sinus cavities causing chronic nose bleed-
ing and sinusitis. Cat addicts then turn to intravenous injection
and/or oral ingestion. Smoking and body absorption have been tried
successfully but are not preferred.
b. Cat addicts smoke marijuana and/or drink excessive amounts
of alcohol to ease the nervous jerks and paranoia associated with
chronic abuse. Addicts often go on binges of continuous Cat use for up
to eight days, never sleeping, and eating very little, if at all. To
avoid the terrible pains of crashing off the drug, addicts smoke in-
creasing amounts of marijuana and/or consume excessive amounts of alco-
hol to the point of unconsciousness.
c. Only two known deaths have been associated with Cat. One
addict, a Cat cooker, died of alcohol poisoning following a week long
binge. Another addict killed himself when he thought DEA was coming to
arrest him. We weren't, but that typifies the paranoia associated with
5. Typical User:
a. Caucasian males and females and some Native Americans (Chip-
pewa Tribe) between the ages of 20 and 35. Most are poly-drug abusers
and have had previous drug experience and/or have abused alcohol. Men
tend to like Cat for its ability to increase endurance and the feeling
of power that the drug invokes. Women like Cat for its powerful
anorexic effect. Cat abusers are easily recognized because of their
gaunt, wasted appearance. Some even have the appearance of being in the
final stages of AIDS or cancer patients on chemo-therapy.
b. Abusers of the drug report side effects that include tempo-
rary loss of memory, sense of smell, and sleep, headaches, double and
triple vision, stomach aches, hallucinations, and vomiting. Side ef-
fects in addicted users include severe vomiting with blood, bleeding
from mouth, nose, eyes, ears, penis, and anus, short and long term
memory loss, loss of sense of smell, temporary blindness, abnormal
breathing, severe headaches, stomach aches, migraine headaches, loss of
sleep, double vision, triple vision, and hallucinations.
6. Purity and Field Testing:
a. Street level Cat is pure. Vitamin B-12, caffeine, cocaine,
ephedrine, or laxatives are sometimes added, but, otherwise, Cat is not
b. A field test for Cat does not yet exist. Cat will react
positively to the Bectin Valium test by turning the test chemical dark
brown. Cat does not react to the ephedrine or methamphetamine tests.
7. Dosage and Prices:
a. An average dose, or "hit", is one line (1/10 to 1/4 gram)
which may be good for a four to six hour high. Exact analysis is un-
available, but depending on the source, a "high" can last 30 minutes,
one hour, four to six hours, or possibly up to 24 hours (in first time
users). Tolerance builds quickly and chronic abusers take the drug more
often and in larger doses.
b. Current prices for Cat as of Mid-July 1993:
1/4 gram = $25.00
1 gram = $80.00 to $100.00
8-Ball (1/8 oz.) = $280.00
1 ounce = $1,000 to $1,200
NOTE: A $56.00 investment in chemicals will produce 20 grams of Cat,
thus realizing a potential profit of $1,944 when sold by the gram.
c. For an area with such a depressed economy and high unemploy-
ment rate, the above prices are extremely difficult to pay. Most abus-
ers make the Cat for themselves and a few customers. Customers who
don't make it and cannot afford it will hock anything of value - one
addict hocked his home to a Cat dealer - women have offered sex for Cat
- homes have been burglarized. Crime, normally very low in the Upper
Peninsula, has shown a marked increase since Cat began spreading out of
Marquette in late 1991. Cookers and users make deals whereby a user
will buy chemicals in exchange for Cat. Because of the heavy law en-
forcement effort in Michigan's Upper Peninsula, lab operators and chem-
ical buyers are traveling up to 500 miles to purchase chemicals.
III. CAT'S ORIGINS, GROWTH, AND SPREAD
a. Methcathinone has been a serious abuse problem in Russia for
decades. The Parke-Davis Company first developed Cat in the early fif-
ties as a possible alternative to methamphetamine, but soon shelved the
drug because of its high potential for addiction and severe side ef-
b. Cat was probably rediscover by an intern at Parke-Davis
Laboratories in Ann Arbor, Michigan. He stole 8-10 cardia stimulants
from Parke-Davis's drug vault and tried them along with two drug using
buddies, one of whom was from Marquette, Michigan. One of the stolen
drugs was methcathinone. The intern researched the Parke-Davis files
and found the formula and recipe for making Cat. They set up a lab in
an apartment in Ann Arbor and began making and distributing Cat in the
Ann Arbor/UM area in late 1989.
2. Growth: Because Cat did not take hold among the UM student
population, the Marquette student decided to drop out of UM in Sep 1990
and moved back to Marquette where he set up a lab in a Northern Michi-
gan University dorm room. He taught some close friends the Cat process
over the next few months. Cat did not, however, take hold at NMU even
though most of the initial users were students there. Cat took hold
among the local UP population in Marquette, and in late 1991, was in-
troduced into Ishpeming, just 16 miles west of Marquette. Meanwhile,
each of the new Cat cookers had labs set up in the Marquette area and
distributing it to a rapidly growing clientele.
a. In late 1991, a resident of Iron River in Iron County, in-
troduced Cat to some Iron County friends and began teaching as many
people as wanted to learn how to make Cat. He also introduced Cat into
Gogebic County on the Chippewa Indian Reservation.
b. In early 1992, the spread of Cat, began taking on a momentum
of its own. Student cookers were now teaching others. Cat quickly
spread into Dickinson and Ontonagon Counties. By late 1992, Cat began
showing up in northeastern Wisconsin. Cat has since turned up in
Houghton and Baraga Counties, Green Bay, Kenosha, Seattle, Chicago,
Indianapolis, and Minneapolis-St. Paul. Methcathinone, called
ephidrone, was recently stolen in two separate burglaries (the first
was 50 grams) from Burroughs-Welcome Laboratories in North Carolina. A
UP connection, if any, is unknown.
IV. ANALYSIS OF THE CURRENT SITUATION
1. Methcathinone is out of control and epidemic in the western UP
and northeastern Wisconsin. This analysis is based on the current high
availability of Cat and the enormous quantities of ephedrine still
being purchased via mail order.
2. The Assistant U.S. Attorney in Marquette subpoenaed the Custom-
er records from 21 ephedrine suppliers to Michigan. As I processed the
records, several interesting trends began to emerge to expose those
individuals ordering ephedrine for diversion to methcathinone:
a. But first, what is Ephedrine? Ephedrine is a bronchial dila-
tor used by asthmatics to ease breathing and as a stimulant combined
with caffeine by truck drivers and college students. Ephedrine is the
active ingredient in Primatene Mist. Ephedrine is sold over-the-counter
at gas stations, truck stops, student hangouts, and by mail order. We
have identified over twenty-five companies who offer ephedrine whole-
sale by mail to Michigan. The Physicians Desk Reference (PDR) recom-
mends a dosage of three to four 24 mg tables per person per day up to a
maximum of six. Most ephedrine buyers purchase the drug in bottles
containing 1,000 pills. 1,000 pills, therefore, should last the average
person five and a half months.
b. Trends noted are:
- 3.4 percent of Michigan's population live in the Upper Peninsula.
- Over 75 per cent of ephedrine shipped to Michigan goes to
the Upper Peninsula. This same trend can be expected in
northeastern Wisconsin compared to Wisconsin as a whole.
- A one time order of 40,000 pills is made for delivery to
an address not located on or near a major interstate.
- Multiple orders are made by one person using a true name
or pseudonym for delivery to one address.
- Multiple orders are made by one person using a true name
or pseudonym for delivery to multiple addresses.
- Multiple orders are made by several people for delivery to
3. Current Situation:
a. Based on analyzing ephedrine purchase records, Cat is cer-
tainly being produced in Menominee and Delta Counties and probably in
Alger County, even though no Cat has been detected or seized.
b. Because of the heavy law enforcement effort in the western
UP, Cat cookers have been moving to Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Illinois.
c. Although outlaw motorcycle gangs are not known to be mak-
ing Cat, the potential is very real. One lab operator in WI has himself
taught three biker friends to make Cat and they have dubbed it "bathtub
speed" because of the ease in which it's made and its similarity to
MARQUETTE GENERAL HOSPITAL
METH "CAT" NINONE
A METHAMPHETAMINE ANALOG
Donald Simila CAC, Supervisor
Addiction Rehabilitation Services
Marquette General Hospital 1993
This report is a response to current requests for information on
the regional use and manufacture of Methcathinone here in the Upper
Peninsula of Michigan and northern Wisconsin. Observations stated in
this preliminary report are based on available information from a lim-
It is imperative at the outset that the reader understand that
little information is available about this drug and its effects on the
human organism. There are no human studies available in the United
States which we can reference that describe the effects of this drug
specifically. There is an animal study which used the racemic form of
methcathinone with rats that were trained to discriminate amphetamine
from saline. The results of this study demonstrated that the N-
monomethyl derivative of cathinone (i.e. Methcathinone) resulted in
stimulus generalization and has been shown to be a very potent psycho-
motor stimulant which shares the pharmacologic profile as well as simi-
lar molecular structure of amphetamine. (Glennon, Yousif, Naiman,
A paper by Richard A. Glennon is scheduled to be available in
March/April which describes the self administration of CAT by Baboons.
This study should provide more information on the addiction potential
for CAT and give dose response information needed to further understand
the action of the drug and its addictive potentials to humans.
Information has recently surfaced from Russia that may provide a
better understanding of this drug with regard to the human organism. It
appears that methcathinone production and use has been a long term
problem for their society. Recently a Russian physician (Dr. Voronin
who is the head of the Drug Dependence Department State Research Center
for Addictions, Russian Federation Ministry of Health) reported in a
Lansing meeting that 55 per cent of the addicts in one regional sample
in russia use homemade drugs; Methcathinone, marijuana, or a poppy seed
tea. Methcathinone, known as Ephidrone, is the most prevalent of the
three among people who entered a treatment program. Injection is the
primary method of administration. There is a continuum of drug potency,
depending on the method used to manufacture the drug. He reported that
physical dependence is reached in 2-4 weeks, and psychological depen-
dence is immediate.
Until further information on methcathinone in the U.S.A. can be
obtained and disseminated, much of the research we have on cocaine and
other psychostimulant addiction (e.g. methamphetamine) can be useful to
the clinician in understanding the effects of methcathinone addiction.
Treatment information can be generalized and methodologies applied with
the CAT addicted person.
WHAT IS METHCATHINONE?
Methcathinone is a potent psychomotor stimulant. As mentioned
earlier, it is similar in chemical composition and pharmacological
effects to methamphetamine. "CAT" is produced via the oxidation of the
ephedrine molecule. Ephedrine is called the precursor chemical.
METHCATHINONE (CAT) can also be derived from the parent chemica.,
cathinone. Cathinone can be found as a naturally occurring compound in
the leaves of the Khat shrub (Catha edulis) indigenous to East Africa.
It is known as KHAT to the Somalies who chew it for its stimulant prop-
erties. Its actions are quite similar, although not as potent.
Methcathinone is currently sold in powdered form, typically in
gram units. It can cost anywhere from 80 to 100 dollars per gram, or in
smaller quantities (for about 25 dollars a quarter gram. I.V. users
dissolve the powdered form in water and inject it, or as described by
Dr. Voronin, the manufacturing process can be altered or stopped short
of the drying stage and used in a liquid form. Some users in the Upper
Peninsula have reported that they have purchased the drug already in a
syringe from dealers.
HOW DID IT END UP IN MICHIGAN'S RURAL UPPER PENINSULA?
Methcathinone was first encountered by law enforcement officials
in the summer of 1991. The first seizure of a clandestine CAT lab in
the USA took place in Michigan. Methcathinone, by some accounts appears
to have been introduced to the Upper Peninsula during the mid to late
1980's. The oxidation method was refined in a lower Michigan city by
individuals with ties to the U.P. These individuals brought the process
with them and distributed it in a localized area.
Parke Davis Company did some fairly extensive research on this
drug during the nineteen fifties and sixties, but shelved the drug due
apparently to negative side effect potential. The British hold a Patent
on the process used to make methcathinone (Feb. 20, 1957). Chemical
companies in Russia have been making a similar drug since 1938. It was
used in Russia to treat depression for a number of years, then made
illegal after which the illegal manufacture of the drug developed.
Methcathinone is easily synthesized in a laboratory, garage, base-
ment, van, etc., from precursor chemicals. the oxidation method is
relatively easy to complete and can be done overnight. Conversely,
traditional illegal methamphetamine production requires more
familiarity with chemistry and laboratory methods with more elaborate
facilities. the trend of the late 80's and now the 90's is for individ-
uals who, alone or with others, buy the precursors and attempt to pro-
duce moderate amounts of methamphetamine or similar agents. they will
distribute it among themselves to support a growing habit or sell it to
others. the sale of the "recipe" itself can bring substantial profit to
individuals and may account for the rapid spread of laboratories in the
U.P. and northern Wisconsin. The precursor chemical ephedrine is pur-
chased cheaply from mail order catalogs. Other agents can be obtained
in hardware stores. An investment of a few hundred dollars can yield
the manufacturer substantial profit. The ease of production and profit
potential from the sale of this drug gives us some indication of the
cause of the apparent exponential growth of this phenomenon in our
area. The explosion of crack cocaine dealers in the larger metropolitan
areas demonstrates similar developmental patterns.
"Recipes" for this kind of production are almost always changing.
If ingredients become unavailable, manufacturers may use other chemi-
cals. The potential for deadly mistakes is eminent. Many of the ingre-
dients are poisonous and, depending on what is available, a "cook" may
use anything from acetoin to battery acid in the manufacturing process.
there have been reports of laboratory locations in garages, trunks of
cars, and basements. Glass jars, tubing, and a heat source are the
primary utensils. to date it seems that all the clandestine labs in
Upper Michigan have been using the same method of production. The
implications of this production include toxic fumes and chemical waste.
Improper disposal of the by-products are an environmental hazard. Ex-
tended exposure to these fumes has its own health consequences. Clean
up of these lab sites requires special training and equipment and can
be very costly.
ROUTES OF ADMINISTRATION
Methcathinone has been injected, snorted, taken orally, smoked or
absorbed through the skin. The majority of the users to date have in-
haled the drug through the nose. There is a large population of drug
users who are also injecting the drug. Little is known of the effects
from smoking the drug and only a few people have reported transdermal
use of the drug. Recent comments by subjects leads us to believe that
oral use is increasing and is an alternative route used by those who
are experiencing bleeding in the nose from chronic use of the drug via
DURATION OF ACTION
Symptoms of methcathinone intoxication include sweaty palms, in-
creased heart rate, increased locomotor activity, restlessness, and
increased body temperature. Users reported increased sexual stimulation
and promiscuity during the initial phases of drug use and diminished
sexual desire with continuous use. Users report cravings for
sugars/sweets with subsequent deterioration of teeth. With long term
use, addicts may exhibit physical wasting, severe depression,
anhedronia/anergia. Russian reports indicate that severe acne emerges
as well as blotches of red pigmentation on back, shoulders and feet.
Russian treatment programs have found that chronic users with 3-4 years
of regular exposure report that the drug loses its stimulant/euphoric
effects at some point. They have also found that these long term users
have some permanent brain damage with some symptoms of Parkinsonism.
Based on current information, I.V. users typically will "shoot"
.25-1 g per administration. Onset of action is within seconds and is
reported as a tremendous "rush." Typically there will be 1 to 2 hours
between use. Users report going on a "run" for as long as 8 or 9 days,
using until they are exhausted and collapse. They may sleep for several
days and will begin the cycle again after full recovery. These patterns
of binge and recovery have been demonstrated in laboratory animals. The
onset of depression or the "crash" is within 4 to 6 hours of last in-
jection. Users will often use alcohol or other depressant type drugs to
"level off" during a binge.
Oral users report onset of action 120-15 minutes after ingestion
with anywhere from 2 to 6 hours of action. Onset of action from inhala-
tion is within ten minutes and will last anywhere from 30 minutes to
We have seen a variety of users present to our facility. Some have
used the drug as an enhancement or supplement drug added to their regu-
lar partying routine while others have used it initially to reduce
fatigue and increase work performance. Others have used it for its
anorectic properties and found that they could not control weight loss.
Others have been I.V. drug abusers with lengthy histories of using
heroin, cocaine, or other chemicals via injection.
CONSEQUENCES OF USE:
Intravenous users of methcathinone have an increased risk for
contracting H.I.V. and Hepatitis through needle sharing. Inhalers have
deterioration of mucus membranes within the nasal cavity. Some oral
users report patches of skin loss around the mouth.
CNS symptoms are the most common chief complaint and include agi-
tation, confusion, delusions, hallucinations, and suicidal ideation.
With higher and more frequent doses symptoms include tactile hallucina-
tions with touching or picking at the face and extremities, suspicious-
ness, and feelings of being watched.
PHYSICAL DEPENDENCE AND WITHDRAWAL
After long term use of methcathinone or even after a binge of a
few days, abrupt cessation is commonly followed by depression, anxiety,
and craving for the drug. This is usually followed by fatigue and a
"crash." Upon awakening there is continued sleepiness, depression and
anhedonia (an absence of feeling). Anergia (lack of energy) is typical
as the patient will rarely arise for anything other than a need to go
to the bathroom. Mood generally returns after several days although in
some cases anhedonia and anergia can last for several weeks.
Cravings for the drug may wax and wane over several weeks to sev-
eral months, dependent largely on emotions and drug using related
stimuli or triggers. Users report relapse is associated with emergence
of anhedonia and dysphoria and reinitiate use in an effort to avoid the
"crash." Relapse is also connected with exposure to stimuli which evoke
memories of the euphoric effects of the drug.
AREAS OF AVAILABILITY
As with other types of stimulant production, availability is gen-
erally localized for a short time. It has been reported by legal au-
thorities in Michigan that methcathinone production and use is no lon-
ger regionalized and has spread to lower Michigan and Wisconsin. The
availability of this drug has the potential of increasing rapidly due
primarily to the ease of production mobility of the labs and the rela-
tive small size of active labs. Detection of active labs by the general
public is difficult. Legal sanctions will provide deterrents to many;
others will continue to use and produce this drug.
This information is preliminary and current as of March 1993 and
more detailed information and reports are in the process of being in-
vestigated and researched by the Michigan Department of Public Health,
Center for Substance Abuse Services and United States Drug Enforcement
Administration, as well as U.P. area service providers.