FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (KNWA) — The Fayetteville VA pathologist recently indicted on manslaughter charges, was on duty while intoxicated on 2M2B, a potent, undetectable substance that causes a lengthy intoxication period, but no hangover.
Dr. Robert Levy faces three counts of involuntary manslaughter and a slew of other charges. A news release issued by the office of Duane Kees, U.S. attorney for the Western District of Arkansas, states that Levy was under the influence of 2M2B, or 2-methyl-2-butanol, while on the job at the VA.
The news release describes 2M2B as a “chemical substance that enables a person to achieve a state of intoxication but is not detectable in routine drug and alcohol testing methodology.”
Dr. Richard Walker, chemistry professor at the University of Arkansas in Pine Bluff, said 2M2B’s chemical structure and mode of toxicity is close to that of ethanol. However, 2M2B is different from ethanol in that it is more difficult to metabolize. Therefore, 2M2B’s intoxication period is longer.
“Ethanol is what’s called a primary alcohol, and they’re metabolized very quickly. 2M2B is a tertiary alcohol,” Walker said. “It would be very difficult for the body to metabolize that, so it would probably stick around a lot longer.”
2M2B is also more fat soluble than normal alcohol, which means it’s more potent, according to Walker.
Texas Substance Abuse Hotline states that 2M2B is predominately used as a pigment solvent. However, it’s sold mostly in doses of 5 or 10 ml on legal high sites as a depressant and intoxicant.
“Despite its distasteful camphor-like taste, users describe an initial rush that feels like five shots of vodka with only 7.5 ml of 2M2B,” the hotline states. “Yet, there are no hangovers from it, making it an alluring substance of abuse. Since it is several thousand times more potent than ethanol as a sedative, it poses an increased risk of respiratory depression.”
Levy purchased 2M2B on online marketplaces such as ebay and Amazon, according to court documents.
Both Sgt. Anthony Murphy of the Fayetteville Police Department and Lt. Jeff Taylor of the Springdale Police Department said their department has not investigated crimes related to 2M2B abuse.
While 2M2B is not commonly abused in the United States, it is growing in popularity, especially among youth in Eastern Europe, according to PubMed.gov.