Music Festival Attendees Say “Molly” Use is Widespread

Young people who attend electronic dance music festivals tell The Christian Science Monitor that use of the drug “Molly” is widespread. The drug has been attributed to four recent overdose deaths, including two at a music festival in New York.

“I mean, there might be some kids that bring stuff with them to use or to sell, but the common idea is, you don’t bring sand to a beach,” Matthew Walcott, a former student at Franklin Pierce University in Rindge, New Hampshire, told the newspaper. “There’s no reason to, because there’s crazy, crazy amounts of drugs everywhere.”

Wilson Compton, director of the Division of Epidemiology, Services and Prevention Research at the National Institute on Drug Abuse, said, “We’re certainly concerned about reports that we’re hearing in different locations, about complications and side effects of these synthetic agents.” He noted that “some people can die from the equivalent of heat exhaustion brought on by the excess activity under the influence of this substance.”

The drug, a more pure form of Ecstasy, comes in a powder. It has been available for decades, but has become more popular recently with college students. Mentions of the drug by music stars including Madonna, Miley Cyrus and Kanye West have increased its appeal.

Molly’s health risks can include involuntary teeth clenching, a loss of inhibitions, transfixion on sights and sounds, nausea, blurred vision and chills and/or sweating. More serious risks of the drug, also called MDMA, can include increased heart rate and blood pressure and seizures.

It is not uncommon to see people at music festivals and clubs go into a “K hole,” an almost-unconscious state, the newspaper reports. The term originally referred to an overdose of the drug ketamine.

A growing number of people who use Molly are buying drug test kits online, to test whether the drugs are laced with impurities.

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    James N. Hall

    September 13, 2013 at 6:39 PM

    While some drugs sold as Molly might be MDMA or contain some MDMA in combination with other drugs, at least in South Florida over 400 samples of drugs called Mollys had no MDMA but contained the now illegal, former “bath salt,” methylone (or bk- 3,4 methylenedioxy-methcathinone).
    The purity of MDMA pills or capsules is down and the number of items analyzed by forensic labs across the US are down (Source: US-DEA: NFLIS). According to, the proportion of pills containing only MDMA has dropped from 50% in 2001 to 23% in 2013 and the number of US crime lab exhibits that are MDMA has dropped from 21,790 in 2006 to 5,148 in 2012. Because of the shortage of pure MDMA, we’re seeing a return of some of the old drugs created to mimic MDMA in the 1980s and also seeing the side effects and deaths when the Molly isn’t what Molly is sold as.

    Mollys have become the new way to sell the now illegal former “bath salts” stimulants (particularly methylone) and other dangerous emerging synthetic drugs. Continuing the worldwide myth that Molly is pure MDMA or Ecstasy only masks a new way to sell now illegal bath salts and lures users into a false sense that they know what they are taking.

    James Hall, Epidemiologist
    Center for Applied Research on Substances Use and Health Disparities
    Nova Southeastern University

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    September 12, 2013 at 8:52 AM

    Pure MDMA is absolutely not a safer alternative to ecstasy.The problem is that what many people think is “molly” ends up being a mixture of new synthetics that are more dangerous and habit forming. A pressed pill of ecstasy is not easy to tamper with or cut, after it has been made into a pill form. “Molly”, on the other hand, is normally distributed in a powder form and can be cut or faked very easily. People at these shows are taking bath salts, mephadrone, methamphetamine, and methelenedioxypyravalerone(MDPV)which are all synthetics that can be commonly mistaken for pure MDMA and are pretty cheap. Thinking of “safe alternatives” is not a good way to approach any situation with drugs. Some people used to think that prescription drugs were a safe alternative to heroin. Now there are more overdose deaths from prescription drugs than any others. The “safe fallacy”, as I like to call it, is a major reason for overdoses because people tend to think that “pure” drugs or “natural” drugs do not harm you. Prescription drugs as well. Someone may feel that just because it is legal, it is not harmful. I am absolutely not a fan of these music shows, not just because I don’t think it is really music, but because during college I would see my friends go to music festivals and come back strung out from a week long drug binge of taking who knows what. It is becoming a culture of abuse as the norm. Not only do these kinds of drugs drastically diminish individuals’ cognitive capacities, but they are dangerous in a more immediate sense.

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    September 9, 2013 at 5:12 PM

    I went to a few EDM shows in August and agree that the Molly use is pretty common.

    I’m not really sure how I feel about it. I believe that kids will usually try and find some way to get high, and this is a much better alternative to E. But in an ideal world, we wouldn’t need drugs to enjoy a show.

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