There's something (potentially dangerous) about molly

Unlike Ecstasy, seen here, which is in the form of a pill, molly is the pure powder or crystal form of MDMA.

Story highlights

  • Molly is thought to be the "pure" powder or crystal form of MDMA
  • MDMA acts as a stimulant and a psychedelic, according to the Drug Enforcement Administration
  • Exact numbers detailing molly's use are unclear, but users tend to be younger
"Have you heard of molly?" the girl next to me asked. She was swaying from side to side, bobbing her head to the bass vibrating throughout the sold-out venue.
The room around us was buzzing with anticipation. Music was blasting. People were dancing and laughing and taking pictures. There was less than an hour until showtime, and I was about to see one of my favorite artists, so I was feeling pretty good.The girl next to me, Jessica, was obviously feeling better.
I turned to my fellow concertgoers, watching as they met Jessica's eyes, nodding their heads knowingly. Of course they had heard of molly.
Turns out, molly is a pretty popular lady these days.
According to the Drug Enforcement Administration, molly is the powder or crystal form of MDMA -- or 3, 4-Methylenedioxymethamphetamine, a chemical drug most commonly known for its use in the pressed pill Ecstasy.
Unlike Ecstasy, which has a reputation for being laced with everything from caffeine to methamphetamine, molly -- a name shortened from "molecule" -- is thought of as "pure" MDMA.
The DEA labels it a Schedule 1 controlled substance, considered to have a high potential for abuse and no accepted use in medical treatment, which means it's illegal.
This year, molly was abundant at music festivals -- if you knew where to look. At Miami's Ultra Music Festival, fliers littered the landscape mentioning her name like missing child posters: "Have you seen molly?" And when Madonna took to the stage to introduce an artist, the pop star asked the audience: "How many people in this crowd have seen molly?" A slew of cheers answered, though Madonna later said she'd been referring to a song, not to an illegal drug.
Hip-hop artists claim they know her -- she's casually mentioned by 2 Chainz in the Nicki Minaj track "Beez In the Trap," by Childish Gambino in his song "Unnecessary," by Kanye West in "Mercy," by Danny Brown in "Die Like a Rockstar."
It seems the drug is on the minds of many. But questions about who -- or what -- molly really is remain.
Contradictions about makeup
An experience with molly starts with a bitter taste, users say, which is soon forgotten as the high kicks in.
"It felt like everything was amplified. It felt euphoric -- almost like a crazy adrenaline rush for a long time," said Evan, a young professional working in Michigan.
"You feel a lot more loose and comfortable in your environment," said recent Georgia high school graduate Jessica, who'd never used molly until the concert in July -- a friend's recommendation convinced her to give molly a try.
And then, usually after a few hours -- depending on the dose that is taken -- of dancing and moving and talking, the trip comes to an end.
"(After it was over), it wasn't like a depression, but it was like, 'Aw man, I wish I felt that way again,' " Jessica said.
MDMA acts as a stimulant and a psychedelic, according to the DEA. After being inhaled, eaten or parachuted -- folded into a tissue and swallowed -- molly ushers in euphoria. It floods users' brains with neurotransmitters serotonin, norepinephrine and dopamine, making them feel elated, empathic and full of energy.
MDMA first found popularity in the form of Ecstasy as the drug of choice among ravers at underground nightclubs in the early 1990s. But when questions arose over the purity of Ecstasy --- the drug was often mixed with other ingredients ---- people turned their attention to a purer form, said Nathan Messer, board president of the nonprofit organization DanceSafe, which promotes health and safety within the nightclub community.
"You knew you were getting the real thing and nothing but the real thing," he said. "Because people knew that (molly) was trustworthy, it became the go-to thing."
Molly is a street name that has been in use for about a decade, Messer said. Although it originally referred simply to MDMA, the title "molly" is now given to a variety of legal substances with similar chemical structures.