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Molly: what clubgoers say about the drug – and why officials are worried

Molly has been tentatively linked to at least four deaths at East Coast gatherings in the past two weeks. Despite the deaths, some in the electronic dance music scene are unapologetic about the use of Molly.

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“I didn't see many people who were sober there, maybe 5 percent of the people at most,” says Mr. Robinson, who notes he does not do drugs at EDM concerts. “But I've found that being sober is strange because a lot of the time, the artists will arrange the show in a way that is cohesive with the drugs to provide an experience for those who are under the influence.”

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MDMA is thought to cause few direct deaths, although such national statistics were not available from the Centers for Disease Control or the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). According to the New York’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, deaths from ecstasy in the city have averaged less than five per year over the past 12 years.

In general, most deaths have been attributed to adulterated doses or bath salt substitutes – a particular problem when most purchases occur at festivals or clubs.

Of the approximately 1.3 million emergency-room visits due to ingestion of illicit drugs in 2011, only 22,500 were attributed to MDMA, according to SAMHSA. However, that represents a 120 percent increase from 2004.

At clubs and festivals, it’s not uncommon to see revelers go into a “K hole,” a slang term for a near-unconscious state that was originally attributed to an overdose of the drug ketamine.  

More and more, EDM and Molly enthusiasts are turning to drug test kits, such as Bunk Police, which can be purchased from Amazon. Growing in popularity at festivals and clubs, these kits allow users to test whether their Molly is laced with impurities.

“Nowadays, there’s a lot of people selling bath salts,” Walcott says. “Most of the time, if you ask if you can test their stuff, they’ll let you test it. And if they don’t, it’s a pretty good indication that you don't want to be doing their drugs.”

So far, the deaths this summer have done little to deter those deep into the culture of dance music and drugs, and the talk among many of them is a more responsible use of Molly.

“I see a lot of negative press and speculation on this subculture and the drugs involved,” Mr. Hiett e-mails. “I understand the outside perspective, and I think the fact that most of the time, when related stories are widespread, they're usually involving an unfortunate death, which is a difficult disadvantage for the scene to overcome. It's tragic to see those things happen, but it's not indicative of most of the people involved in the subculture.”


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