The accused was released after his interrogation. It is awaiting criminal proceedings on suspicion of the illicit importation of significant quantities of narcotic drugs and their illegal and profitable trade. But Kaj Hollemans, who is very familiar with Dutch drug policy, says it`s not the solution. “The ban will actually create more problems,” he says. “It`s not that substances disappear once you make them illegal.” Hollemans believes there is simply a high demand for recreational drugs. “What`s missing is a conversation about reducing the risks associated with these substances,” he says. Since the spread of its story, the Dutch media has been obsessed with 3-MMC, also known as metahedrone – a synthetic drug from the Cathinone family that is very similar to 4-MMC or mephedrone. Most countries that have banned 4-MMC have also banned 3-MMC due to its similar structure, but in the Netherlands it can still be purchased legally. The European Commission today adopted measures to tackle two harmful new psychoactive substances (NPS) across the EU (1). The substances in question — 3-methylmethcathinone (3-MMC) and 3-chlorometcathinone (3-CMC) — are both synthetic cathinones of concern in Europe. The delegated act follows risk assessments carried out by the EU Medicines Agency (EMCDDA) in November 2021 (2) as part of a three-stage legal procedure to respond to potentially threatening new medicines available on the market (3). British drug policy has shifted towards the use of substances such as mephedrone and what makes 3-MMC unique. So far, UK law has only banned mephedrone and three other synthetic cannabinoids.
Metahedrone and the other three are known as “legal highs,” with many people unaware of legal restrictions. From 28 October 2021, 3-MMC is planned under the Dutch Opium Act and therefore illegal in the Netherlands.  Dr. med. Zee sees the Dutch government`s ban plan as “a clear mistake that will soon be corrected.” He argues that its creation should continue to exist legally, even if he does not deny the risks of consumption. “But you can`t blame the drug,” he says. “It all depends on how you treat the substance yourself.” Dutch Health Secretary Paul Blokhuis wants to make 3-MMC illegal because it looks a lot like substances such as amphetamine and MDMA. Since the broadcast, the Dutch media has been obsessed with the 3-MMC, also called Metaphedron. The synthetic drug belongs to the family of cathinone derivatives and is a close relative of 4-MMC, better known as mephedrone.
Most countries that have banned mephedrone have also banned 3-MMC under new laws such as the German New Psychoactive Substances Act. In the Netherlands, however, the substance is currently still legally available. 3-Methylmethcathinone, also known as 3-MMC and metaphedrone, is a synthetic drug of the substituted cathinone family. The structure of 3-MMC is closely related to mephedrone (4-MMC), a more well-known illicit drug, and is also illegal in most countries that have banned mephedrone, as 3-MMC is a structural isomer of 4-MMC. However, 3-MMC has always appeared on the recreational drug market as an alternative to mephedrone and was first sold in Sweden in 2012.  Unlike other legal highs, 3-MMC has been tested and characterized in large mammals, and has provided much more knowledge about it than is known about other synthetic cathinones. 3-MMC is a monoamine transporter substrate that strongly inhibits norepinephrine absorption and more pronounced dopaminergic activity compared to serotonin activity.  The theory is that metahedrone is no more dangerous than, say, cocaine or heroin, but users who use it tend to have more than one “high” and will not feel the “high” until much later, when their bodies have absorbed a large amount of the drug. In addition, 3-MMC tends to be slightly more potent than the average “legal high” (such as spice or mephedeur). “We are still one step behind the people who produce these [synthetic] drugs,” Blokhuis said in November 2020. He is currently working with the Department of Justice to create a comprehensive law – one that would ban hundreds of raw materials used to make many different types of substances and place them in the same legal class as drugs like cocaine and speed.
“We can assume that synthetic drugs based on [these hard drugs] can also cause significant health problems,” Blokhuis and Justice and Security Minister Ferd Grapperhaus say in the bill. They see prohibition as the only answer. In a short time, several reports have been published detailing how young lives have been “destroyed” by this new horror drug. Parents desperately sounded the alarm about the potentially deadly substance, while various Dutch mayors were driven “to despair” because 3-MMC was “so addictive and terrible.” The mayors joined forces to write a letter to the head of the Dutch Ministry of Justice, drawing attention to the fact that 3-MMC was still legally available. Synthetic cathinones are a group of stimulant substances chemically related to cathinone, the main psychoactive substance in the khat plant (Catha edulis). Cathinone itself is chemically similar to amphetamine and is part of Annex I of the 1971 United Nations Convention on Psychotropic Substances. At the end of 2021, the EMCDDA monitored 162 synthetic cathinones, making it the second largest category of NPS (after synthetic cannabinoids) observed. Cathinones are marketed as a “legal” substitute for controlled stimulants such as amphetamine, MDMA and cocaine. Criminal proceedings for suspected illicit importation and trafficking of narcotics The Dutch Secretary of State for Health, Paul Blokhuis, wants to criminalize the drug because it is very similar to illegal substances such as amphetamine and MDMA. 3-MMC and 3-CMC would be sold as legal substitutes for the closely related substances mephedrone and 4-chloromethane (4-CMC), which were controlled internationally in 2015 and 2020, respectively. Most cathinone use appears to be recreational use and involves sniffing or swallowing, but injection is also reported in high-risk situations such as chemsex parts (5). Meanwhile, Dr Zee says the Dutch government`s plan to ban its creation is “clearly a mistake that will be corrected very soon”.
It defends its right to exist legally, although it recognizes the risks of overuse. “You can`t blame drugs for that,” he says. “It`s about how you treat the substance yourself.” For legal reasons (analytical investigations requested by the police for forensic purposes), the raw analytical data in support of the conclusions of this article are not publicly available and indiscriminately. They are only made available to authors by qualified researchers, from strictly specific and motivated entities. Requests for access to raw data should be addressed to the author concerned. Kaj Hollemans, who specializes in legal advice used to inform national policy regarding drugs, alcohol and gambling, believes that media reports have not only exaggerated the topic of 3-MMC, but have probably also fueled it. “If the [Dutch] media is to be believed, it`s Sodom and Gomorrah,” he said over the phone. “But a few years ago, the 3-MMC was barely used by anyone.” But Kaj Hollemanns, who is very familiar with Dutch drug laws, says it`s not an answer to the existing problem.
“The ban will only create more problems,” he says. “It`s not like the substances disappear if you make them illegal.” Hollemans believes that there is simply a very high demand for recreational drugs in general. “What is missing is a discussion on how to mitigate the risks associated with these substances,” he says. Being legal for so long, 3-MMC is now in the hands of many young people. It is quite an unpredictable drug, so it may be necessary to get used to it for people who do not know it. 3-MMC can cause a significant overdose, and it can also cause a variety of other adverse effects. The publisher`s and examiner`s affiliations are the most recent indicated on their looping search profiles and may not reflect their situation at the time of the exam. 3-MMC (or metaphedrone) is taken orally or inserted into the rectum. Often, 3-MMC is dissolved in alcohol or benzodiazepine-based medications such as lorazepam, diazepam or temazepam, but it is also sometimes smoked.