Why the Party Drug Molly Isn't What You Think It Is

When a 19-year-old University of Virginia student went to an electronic dance concert at a D.C. nightclub in 2013, she thought she was taking Molly.

Also known as Ecstasy, Molly has a reputation as a popular party drug that creates hallucinations and the feeling of unending energy.

But a spokesman for the Drug Enforcement Administration told the News4 I-Team that they now know the student actually took something more like bath salts.

“Her friend said she took Molly,” the DEA’s Rusty Payne told us. “So the police thought she took Molly. But our lab tests later showed it was more like methylone, which is what’s in bath salts.”

The student collapsed at the club and died that night at Providence Hospital.

Less than a month later, two more partygoers at a New York music festival died after they too ingested what they thought was Molly. Once again, DEA lab tests later showed it was something else entirely.

The DEA says out of 143 “drug exhibits suspected of being Molly” it tested between 2009 and 2013, chemical analysis revealed only 13 percent contained MDMA -- shorthand for 3,4 methylenedioxymethamphetamine – the scientific name for the molecule most well-known as Ecstasy or Molly.

Instead, tests showed nearly two-thirds of the samples initially believed to be Molly contained chemicals used in bath salts, or 4-MEC, a new synthetic drug scientists know very little about.

The DEA says the small batch of samples that actually contained MDMA were not “pure” and consisted of other synthetic drug combinations and Ritalin.

Recent statistic released by the DEA show MDMA use has steadily declined in recent years. It seized about 2,438 kg of MDMA in 2008 and only 432 kg in 2012. One kilogram of MDMA powder can create more than 7,000 tablets according to the DEA, which typically sell for about $10 to $40 per tablet. In recent years, agents told us they’ve also witnessed users snorting or sniffing the loose powder.

The DEA says the main message they want to get out there is no one, not even the people making these drugs, knows what these synthetic compounds will do to your body.

You could get a dose with little or no chemicals in it. Or you could get something entirely new that could kill you. Even if you’re told it’s something with an established party-drug reputation like Molly.

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