Drug Policy

That Molly Is the Shit—but Not in a Good Way


Paramount Pictures

Last year in Playboy, Frank Owen skillfully dissected the Legend of the Causeway Cannibal, explaining how people around the world came to believe that the synthetic stimulants known as "bath salts" caused one man to eat another's face, even though it turned out that the assailant had not actually consumed any of those drugs. In a new Playboy article, Owen and his wife, Lera Gavin, go "Chasing Molly," searching high and low for some decent MDMA sold under its latest brand name. Spoiler alert: They fail. Although MDMA-as-molly (powder in a capsule) is reputedly better than MDMA-as-Ecstasy (a tablet), Owen reports, it is vastly inferior to MDMA-as-adam, the compound that excited the psychonautical chemist Alexander Shulgin and his psychotherapist friends back in the late 1970s, before it became known as a party drug, prompting the Drug Enforcement Administration to ban it in 1985. Some of the molly that Owen and Gavin buy in Miami Beach and New York does contain MDMA, but it's mixed with a bunch of other things that consumers probably are not expecting: synthetic cathinones (a common ingredient in those "bath salts" that supposedly turn people into flesh-eating zombies), methamphetamine, even the narcotic painkiller oxycodone. Often the stuff sold as molly contains no MDMA at all:

According to the Miami Police Department, methylone and mephedrone, along with another synthetic cathinone called 4-MEC, account for the vast bulk of the molly seized by narcotics cops in the area. A DEA spokesperson told me that in the first six months of 2013, the DEA's Miami field office seized 106 consignments of molly, which contained 43 different substances, 19 of them so obscure even government chemists couldn't identify them.

It looks like many people who report MDMA-like experiences of openness and connectedness after consuming molly are providing further evidence of the powerful impact that "set and setting" (expectations and environment) have on a drug's perceived effects. Yet this interesting experiment drug warriors have set up has a cost: not just disappointment but potentially deadly hazards for consumers who get something different from what they thought they were buying, as tends to happen in a black market.

Prohibition not only makes drugs more dangerous by creating a situation where people are swallowing iffy pills and snorting mystery powders; it blocks attempts to ameliorate those hazards. Owen and Gavin note that music festivals such as Electric Zoo, which this year was cut short after two drug-related deaths, "refuse to allow organizations such as Dance-Safe to test molly on-site because organizers fear they will be accused of condoning drug use." Such accusations can trigger serious legal consequences, including forfeiture and criminal prosecution.

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  1. Expect prohibitionists to give not a shit. Cultists are rarely persuaded by evidence.

    1. The purpose of the public health department is to nudge people into better choices.

    2. If the GOP ever want to get a leg up on the Democrats, they would abandon their prohibitionist attitudes they currently share with them. It could also help with the misconception that they are racist and the Democrats aren’t.

  2. before it became known as a party drug, prompting the Drug Enforcement Administration to ban

    This sums up our national drug policy perfectly: it doesn’t matter if it’s dangerous, if people are having fun with it, it’s got to be banned.

    1. DEA = Derp Enforcement Administration.

  3. Prohibition not only makes drugs more dangerous by creating a situation where people are swallowing iffy pills and snorting mystery powders; it blocks attempts to ameliorate those hazards.

    That’s why I stick to the wacky weed. You know what you’re getting (for the most part).

    1. Except when the government trys to poisen me with paraquat. To help me.

  4. They sell test kits to test the molly to make sure it’s really molly. Usually Marquis but there are others.

    If you’re not testing the molly, than yeah the dude is probably selling you bath salts or meth.

    But it’s not like it’s impossible to know.


  5. Who’d have thought Ducky would be on (like it or not) one of the most successful sitcoms.

    1. Never seen the movie. Teenage angst just wasn’t my thing when I was a teenager. Liked the theme song though.

    2. And that Molly Ringwald would be on the back of milk cartons.

    3. People named Ducky do not have sex. Not with humans, anyway.

      1. Did Howard the Duck have sex with Lea Thompson? I can’t remember because that movie was horrible. Also, just asking for a friend. Named NutraSweet.

        1. Did Howard the Duck have sex with Lea Thompson?


        2. He did, as you are disturbingly well aware. However, it’s a valid question, so I’ll answer: It’s Ducky, not Duck that creates the problem. For instance, Duck Dodgers got more tail than you can possibly imagine.

  6. Legalization with taxation and regulation are the way to go with these drugs. Sure, people should be able to put what they want into their own bodies in their own homes. And the best way to do so is to regulate it since the risks of black-market and/or unregulated products that are mind-altering can be devastating.

    1. And make it easier for children to get!? if we let everybody buy whatever narcotics they want then toddlers will end up with them in the rooms. Your ideas will fill every emergency room in America with kids hopped up on their parents bad habits. You liberty freaks really are monsters.

    2. Well, no, a free market is the way to go. The government has no business being involved in any way with what we choose ingest or not.

  7. Prohibition not only makes drugs more dangerous

    To prohibitionists, this is a feature, not the bug you see it as. They are essentially religious cultists, and those who use drugs are sinners who deserve punishment. This is what normal, non-vicious people need to realize. These people are not doing this because they want to help people. They are doing it because for whatever deep-seated psychological reason, they hate drugs and by extension those who use them. They are actively malicious. They want to send non-violent drug users to jail as punishment. They want people who overdose to die from lack of Nalaxone as punishment. They want to hurt people who use drugs. They want to punish them. And they are tireless in their attempts.

    Remember, create any position of authority, and the worst possible people to fill that position will gravitate to it. Who are the worst possible people to run a drug prohibition enforcement system? People who hate drugs and drug users. So of course that’s who is populating entire agencies.

    1. Certainly explains why DEA stooges are such unbelievable motherfucking thugs.

      Fuck them all.

      1. They’re just doing what they’re told. If you direct their energies to rooting out the legal manufacturers that are cutting corners on safety, they’d be doing the people a service.

        Drugs aren’t my thing, but I don’t begrudge their use. Having said that, they have to be regulated and monitored by somebody responsible or we’d have corners being cut and people dropping dead with nobody there to be held accountable.

        1. No, they don’t have to be. And the same thuggish assholes running the drug war will be the ones regulating and monitoring.

          1. Then tell me how the average person buying smack is gonna ensure they don’t get a bad dose and end up dead. My goodness, can’t you guys just compromise a little to get most of what you want? As I said on the earlier story, there is a place for the government “promoting the General Welfare”. These are those kinds of places.

            1. The same way they buy any other product.

              1. You mean the products that are all regulated by the FDA or USDA? Because virtually everything ingested in America is regulated by one of those two federal agencies in one way or another.

                1. I was going to give a more serious response, but since you decided to jump to logical fallacy land, you get this instead:

                  That an agency exists does not prove it is necessary.

            2. I trust consumer reports and 20000 Amazon reviews more than any stamp of approval by bureaucrats that inspect a completely immaterial amount of product they have authority over. The kind of research done in the article above would be done by countless for profit websites whose bottom line relied on getting their reviews right. They in turn would no doubt allow user reviews as we see with restaurants, hotels, and about any other legal product under the sun. The money from taxes would be better spent on helping those people who can’t handle their shit and need some help. We could try helping them instead of ruining their lives with prison.

        2. Bullshit. You’re just another authority worshiping centralized control believer in TOP MEN who will make us all safe through regulations. At least be honest about what you are; it makes your control freakery less hypocritical.

    2. Sort of like this. If you want someone to be an officer of the court and see that justice is done, you’d want a prosecutor who is an amoral sociopath who sees the office as merely a stepping stone to more power, and the people in the system as mere props for their own aggrandizement ?

    3. I think that’s more true than most people realize. Not every drug crusader is like that, but there’s a lot of it.

      1. like our friendly zealot Paul Chabot.
        remember him ?


    4. “So of course that’s who is populating entire agencies.”

      Jesus Christ, are you jaded or what. The much more likely scenario is that these people joined the DEA after being cops or other federal officers and saw the devastating effects of unregulated illicit drug use. Take the “unregulated” and “illicit” part out of the equation and these guys become no more than USDA inspectors ensuring purity of product. I hardly think there will be mass resignations just because they don’t get to crack anymore doper heads. Give them a little more credit than that.

      1. I hardly think there will be mass resignations just because they don’t get to crack anymore doper heads. Give them a little more credit than that.

        This is a strong argument against your proposed regulations.

      2. Why the fuck would I give people who sought out a job where they get to put people in jail for smoking or selling a plant any credit? Holy fuck you’re gullible. You seem new here. Why don’t you lurk a little more and read some of the stories of what LEOs routinely do before making retarded statements like the above.

        Or you could crawl over to a site like PoliceOne and lick their balls. You might like that.

        1. Hey, I don’t like the police and their ability to do whatever they want without consequence. But that’s a different argument altogether. I am just saying that you have to eliminate the function that allows them to behave poorly. Take that away and they’re likely going to do their job just fine because they have a pretty good gig working for the government.

          It’s like Eliot Ness said when asked what he would do if they overturned prohibition. “I’ll probably have a drink.”

          1. So Ness was a hypocryte

      3. They’ll get more credit when they earn it.

        1. And they can’t get a chance to earn it until you compromise a little and change their enforcement role to an oversight role. If you people can’t see that then you’re as blind as a bat.

          1. I’m fine with changing their role as described, it would be a huge improvement over the status quo though less than ideal. But that doesn’t make the cynicism unwarranted; if policy was changed as you describe then the vast majority of these agents would more than likely be reassigned to other departments, kept on at their inflated salaries as part of an unnecessary enforcement arm tasked with raiding the homes of excise tax cheats, or would return to their old lives as local cops milling about for another reason to raid frat parties and crack teenage skulls.

            The regulators would be a whole new batch of bureaucrats and detestable in a totally different way, though one more worthy of scorn and derision than what the current batch deserves.

      4. “Unregulated” “illicit” – man, am I confused.

    5. We have to kill you to save you from yourself

  8. So we’re still going to pretend that was the result of government or corporate biological testing on reanimation of dead tissue that’s going to lead to an eventual, inevitable zombie apocalypse? That’s what we’re doing here? Sure, bath salts was a clumsy cover but I don’t think we need to be hiding the obvious truth. Not here at reason.

    1. The Haitians have already figured out how to make zombies

      1. Bill Pullman is not really a zombie, he’s just a terrible actor.

        1. Clearly, you are no Schwartz master.

          1. But can YOU handle your Schwartz as well as him?

            1. There’s a reason they call him Lone Star.

              1. I suppose that since he’s been hanging out with a Druish Princess, he’s been forced to learn how to handle his Schwartz alone.

                1. It’s a tough gig, no doubt.

                  1. To be fair, no one has ever given a nuanced, well acted performance in a Mel Brooks movie.

                    Except Peter Boyle, and maybe Alex Karras.

        2. I thought that was Bill Paxton.

          1. Game over, man, GAME OVER!

            1. Yeah, but its a dry heat!

  9. The latest panic on FB and the news is Krokodile. Is that just another crappy substitute with horrible side effects? Have not seen an article on it in H&R.

    1. Apparently, that stuff uses gasoline for solvent and isn’t cleaned very well, so people are injecting gasoline.

    2. Yes, it’s a cheap heroin substitute.

  10. I once snorted molly, and it made me sweat and stay awake all night. It was so damn hot in the bar that I ended up just standing there and making fun of the shitty dj. Also, my nose bled for five days.

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