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Siren song of ‘Molly’ lures the young into dangerous shoals of drug culture

There was little left to the imagination when Miley Cyrus grinded her way into adulthood at the recent Video Music Awards. But one part of her performance was bleeped out later, when she sang that people like to party, “dancing with Molly.”

“Molly” is the street name of an increasingly popular club drug, a variation of Ecstasy.

And Molly has made plenty of headlines the last few weeks and months:

• On Labor Day weekend, the last day of the Electric Zoo music festival on New York City’s Randall’s Island was canceled after two people died from drug overdoses apparently linked to Molly.

• Two weeks ago, the University at Buffalo Research Institute on Addictions released a fact sheet on Molly, concluding, “ ‘Molly’ has been making news lately. Bad news.”

•Extremely popular at big concerts and music festivals, Molly also has been glorified in the lyrics of popular songs sung by Cyrus, Kanye West and Rihanna, experts in the field say.

• And Sen. Charles E. Schumer, D-N.Y., is warning about the use of Molly, offering a two-pronged approach to taking it off our streets.

Molly has been around for a while, in a slightly different form.

“Molly is a new, supposedly purer form of the drug Ecstasy,” said Kimberly S. Walitzer, deputy director of the UB Research Institute on Addictions. “But ‘purer,’ importantly, does not mean safer or better. It’s a dangerous, illegal drug.”

Molly – a shorter version of “molecular” – actually is the powder or crystal version of methylenedioxymethamphetamine, or MDMA, more commonly known as Ecstasy. Often taken in pill form, Molly is considered a newer reincarnation of Ecstasy.

A manufactured stimulant, Molly increases the activity of brain neurotransmitters, producing feelings of euphoria, emotional closeness and increased energy, according to the UB Research Institute on Addictions summary. Those effects typically last three to five hours.

Experts emphasize that there’s nothing safe about the way Molly is being used.

“More and more, we’re seeing evidence that the pills have been mixed, unbeknownst to the user, with other drugs, such as bath salts, heroin or cocaine,” Walitzer said.

And that has turned into a lethal combination, as Molly has been identified as a possible culprit in recent deaths in Boston, Washington and New York City.

Molly is no stranger to Western New York or any other large metropolitan area.

“It’s always been here,” Jodie L. Altman, director of adolescent clinical services at the Renaissance Campus in West Seneca, said of Molly and its earlier form, Ecstasy. “I don’t think it ever went away. It just got replaced by something bigger and better.”

Adolescents, in recent years, have turned to their parents’ and grandparents’ medicine cabinets to find easily accessible prescription drugs. When those aren’t available, they often turn to heroin.

But Molly and Ecstasy haven’t disappeared, by any measure.

Experts say that those two drugs typically don’t appeal to the traditional hard-core drug addicts. Instead, they’re the drug of choice for the younger party crowd, in their late teens and 20s.

Two months ago, Erie County sheriff’s Narcotics Unit deputies raided a home on Four Rod Road in the Town of Marilla, where they arrested a 37-year-old man and confiscated Ecstasy, crystal meth, hallucinogenic mushrooms and other drugs.

“This guy had a dance pole, music, DJ equipment and all these chemical substances,” said Senior Detective Alan N. Rozansky, who heads the Narcotics Unit. “They were club drugs. I think he was doing raves.”

Why is Molly becoming so popular?

Because it has become an important part of pop culture, glorified by popular singers whose lyrics become anthems for impressionable young people.

“These kids look up to these people,” Altman said of the singers. “They’re in the spotlight. They have the money, the notoriety, the fame, the cars and homes, everything these kids want. If they make Molly look so good, why wouldn’t the kids want it? Their role models have it.”

Molly also carries another obvious allure for young people.

“The way these dealers market it, as the love drug, you’re going to feel wonderful and in love,” Altman said of the sales pitch. “Why wouldn’t they try it?”

Schumer sounded his own warnings. “As this drug gets more popular, it also gets more dangerous as drug dealers cut it with increasingly deadly chemicals,” he said in a statement. “We’ve begun to see the number of cases of overdoses and death rise this summer, and things are going to get far worse unless we take immediate and aggressive action.”

Schumer outlined two specific actions that could be taken.

First, he called on the nation’s anti-drug organizations to focus on Molly labs, to reduce or eliminate their production and distribution. And then he offered his active support for current legislation to provide the federal government with more authority to target the chemicals that go into Molly.

In the meantime, parents are urged not to shy away from dealing with this problem, to turn this information into a teaching lesson for their children.

“Use it as an opportunity to talk with your kids,” Walitzer said. “Don’t be passive, just because the culture is inundating our kids with bad messages. Be open about it.”