The first time I ever heard about Molly was my only time at Coachella, back in 2010. In my naïve and uneducated mind, I thought that there were an inordinate amount of women named “Molly” at that festival; that, or there was one “Molly” and she had way too many friends. My more educated and seasoned friend whom I had traveled with informed me that it was the street term for MDMA, or ecstasy. It really wasn’t until years later that I learned that even ecstasy wasn’t really ecstasy, not in the way that it was advertised, at least. Adulterants such as speed, meth, bath salts, and other research chemicals were added to pressed pills to provide a more energetic experience than just pure MDMA would give. As pressed pills began to wane in popularity and availability, caps became the new method of delivery, and the term “ecstasy” also gave way to molly. In the public eye, this just seemed like a switcheroo, a rebranding. Unfortunately, dealers and suppliers were using this new “molly” buzzword to peddle their ultimately more dangerous and less pure products.
This issue is a national one. It was most recently brought into the public eye when 12 individuals at Wesleyan University were transported to hospitals for apparent overdoses. Friends told EMTs and paramedics that the patients, “10 students and two visitors,” had taken molly.
“A lot of the patients that we see coming in saying that they’ve taken molly, it usually turns out that they haven’t actually taken MDMA,” says Dr. Mark Neavyn, director of medical toxicology at Hartford Hospital, where the Wesleyan students were treated.
The term molly has become so entwined with MDMA/ecstasy that it’s difficult for new users to know any better. Mainstream media has done a lot of damage itself, as it has been slow to catch on and inform the masses about the integral differences between the two substances. MDMA, in correct dosages, has a variety of benefits including reducing fear and increasing empathy. It has also proven extremely effective in treatments of PTSD. “Molly,” on the other hand, is often composed of unknown substances called “Research Chemicals” that are concocted in labs and tested on unknowing and unaware buyers. And more often than not, dosage sizes vary.
Bromo-DragonFLY is a synthetic that is much stronger than Ecstasy, and taking an MDMA-size dose of it could be more than 1,000 times as potent as a typical Bromo-DragonFLY dose.
The good news is that organizations like DanceSafe are providing materials to youth who just want to experiment safely.
Missi Wooldridge, executive director of the organization, says that when DanceSafe provides on-site testing and people learn a substance isn’t what they think it is, “the majority of the time we watch them throw that substance out or choose not to use it… It kind of proves that young people do care about their health. They do care about what they consume.”
All of this points to evidence that knowledge about substances, rather than prohibition, is a more effective and ultimately more successful way to keep the youth of this generation safe. The “War On Drugs” should be over, but proponents from the DEA and FDA want to remain in control of what people put into their own bodies. Slowly but surely, the youth of this generation and educated users from decades past are helping to change the conversation and begin on the path toward legalization, regulation, and relaxation of restrictions.
Photo by DAVID KASNIC