(Methylethcathinone, 4-MEC, N-Cat, NRG-2)
4-Methylethcathinone (4-MEC) is an ethylated analog of cathinone similar in structure and activity to Mephedrone but with an ethyl substituent at the nitrogen atom rather than methyl in mephedrone[i]. It has been marketed as a legal high under the trade names NRG2 and N-Cat.
Chemistry and Legal Status:
As a cathinone derivative with alkyl substituent in the ring and alkyl substituent at the nitrogen atom the substance would have been included within the derivative legislation which controlled mephedrone and other substituted cathinones in the UK from April 2010. Jancovics et al[ii] developed a protocol for identification and quantitative testing of 4-MEC reporting “The method was successfully applied to several unknown bulk powder samples seized by the Hungarian Customs and Finance Guard. One of the samples contained the new designer drug 4'-methylethcathinone (4-MEC), which was identified and characterized by LC-MS/MS, NMR, FT-IR and LC-TOF-MS techniques. The method is also deemed to be applicable for the screening of simple dosage forms such as tablets and capsules.”
Drug Users forums have received user-reports on their experiences with 4-MEC[iii][iv][v][vi] 19x user reports were noted, dosages ranged from 100mg-1g nasally (duration of effects 20min-2hrs), 100-500mg orally (1-3½ hrs) and one report of 500mg used intravenously (no duration stated).
The User Forum reports on effects of 4-MEC suggest they are similar to but milder than most classic stimulants – euphoria/stimulation (10 each), increased energy (6) and mood elevation, relaxation/chilled (4 each), and empathy, trippy/weird and body high (3 each) with talkativeness increased libido, and increased tactile or musical appreciation reported as positive effects by two or more individuals. The most commonly-reported negative effects were disappointing/weak effects, lethargy after use and cravings (6 each), confusion (5) anxiety, tremor/jitters (4 each), nausea/vomiting and nasal pain (inhalation) (3 each) with nystagmus & sweating reported by two respondents.
There is very very little reliable information on 4-MEC available, however current knowledge suggests the drug to be less potent than most other available cathinones. The effects were described by most correspondents as weaker and shorter-lived than for mephedrone or alternative cathinones, the side-effects, particularly incidence of cravings and tendency to binge were also less severe than with other cathinones. Several remarked how it made them feel relaxed contrary to expectations. The consensus from most users appeared to be that using 4-MEC was barely worth the effort and that other cathinones were much more effective.
[ii] Jankovics P, Váradi A, Tölgyesi L, Lohner S, Németh-Palotás J, Koszegi-Szalai H.  Identification and characterization of the new designer drug 4'-methylethcathinone (4-MEC) and elaboration of a novel liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS) screening method for seven different methcathinone analogs. Forensic Sci Int.;210(1-3):213-20. Epub 2011 Apr 16.