7 Things Every Cop Should Know About the Drug Molly

I originally wrote this for policeone.com.

What is Molly?

The term Molly has increasingly been thrown around on the streets and in the press, but what is it? Many officers — as well as drug users — seem to think that “Molly” is a pure form of MDMA, or ecstasy.

In actuality, “it’s a generic term for a variety of research chemicals,” said seasoned street cop and former DEA task force officer in Southern California. “Think of it as a catch-all phrase like some people use to describe other chemicals like Bath Salts or Spice. Molly can be any number of 100 different chemicals.”

According to a 2013 CNN report, “the majority of DEA seizures over the past few years revealed that what had been sold as Molly actually contained no MDMA at all. In fact, because Molly has evolved from a pure form of MDMA into a toxic mixture of lab-manufactured chemicals, the DEA has described the use of Molly as ‘playing Russian roulette.’”

Molly Facts (& Fiction)

Many users of the drug Molly are young people. Pax Prentiss, co-founder and CEO of a drug rehabilitation center in Southern California told CNN that Molly users tend to be between the ages of 16-24. Further, according the National Institute on Drug Abuse, between five and seven percent of high school students have tried what they thought was Molly.

Research conducted by WebMD (and reviewed by Brunilda Nazario, MD) shows “Molly has been tied with a number of overdoses.”

One of the appealing natures of this drug is that phenethylamines do not have an amphetamine component. Because of this, “users can avoid positive drug screens since most standard screens don’t test for it,” says the former DEA officer.

As its use becomes increasingly popular, it is important that officers become familiar with the drug and its properties. Here are seven facts about the drug:

1. Molly comes from a group of drugs called phenethylamines. The DEA announced in a November 2013 briefing that only 13 percent of the Molly seized in New York City actually contained MDMA. Most of the samples submitted actually contained Methylone, MDPV, 4-MEC, 4-MMC, Pentedrone and MePP. The samples that did contain MDMA also contained a combination of the abovementioned drugs.

2. Molly users don’t necessarily know what they are getting. Many users think Molly is a pure form of MDMA and are unaware of the harsh chemicals affiliated with the drug. Expecting to experience feelings of euphoria, users high on Molly laced with unknown chemicals can instead feel panic, confusion, depression, and anxiety.

3. Users who take Molly will experience a hallucinogenic effect along with a stimulant effect. Symptoms include dilated pupils, rapid pulse rate, sweating, and hyperactivity. They may also have hallucinations. One user that I had contacted that had been involved in a major injury crash said that he was distracted because all of the street lights were connected by one continuous stream of light. Muscle tension and grinding of the teeth are also very common.

mephedrone-web4. Molly most often comes in pill or powder form. If you find it in a pill, it is often just pressed powder. Some of the pills will often have some type of marking on it that is attractive to younger people. Cartoon characters and commercial logos make up most of the markings.

5. Some users may “Booty Bump” Molly. Booty bumping is a practice in which the user places the pill in their rectum to get high. It is an effective way to ingest some drugs, especially if the drug comes in pill form. If a user takes the drug orally, it takes longer to take effect and the high is not as intense. If the user places the pill in their rectum, the high is more intense because of the abundance of veins in the lower digestive tract.

6. Molly is both imported and made locally in clandestine labs. Some Molly is made in labs in China, the Netherlands and other parts of Europe. It is manufactured into a powder form and then usually put into a pill press to make into pills.

7. Cops (everyone, really) should be concerned about Molly because it’s dangerous. The chemicals found in Molly can cause a harsh reaction and many can overdose and die.

A Real Problem
Molly is not a new problem, but it is something that has been generating a lot of interest in the public and the press. With this increased interest, use rates will go up, causing harm to our communities, and more calls for service for police officers.



Author: Keith Graves
Keith is a retired Police Sergeant and worked in the San Francisco Bay Area for 29 years. Keith was named as California’s Narcotics Officer of the Year and is a prior winner of MADD’s California Hero Award. He has years of experience as a Narcotics Detective and a Narcotics Unit Supervisor and is a Drug Recognition Expert Instructor (IACP #3292). Keith teaches both the DRE course and the Drug Abuse Recognition Course and has taught at the Police Academy. He has developed several drug courses for the California Narcotics Officers Association, California POST and California Colleges and currently consults POST on drug investigation procedures. Keith has held other assignments besides narcotics including Training Sergeant, Patrol Sergeant, COPPS Officer, Traffic Officer, and 20 years as a SWAT Team member and Sniper Team Leader. Keith has taught thousands of officers and businesses around the world about drug use, drug trends, compliance training and drug investigations. He is recognized as an international drug expert and has testified as an expert in court proceedings on drug cases, homicide cases and rape prosecutions. Keith earned a BA in Business Management from Saint Mary's College of California and a MA in Criminal Justice. Keith is the Founder and President of Graves & Associates, a company dedicated to providing drug training to law enforcement and private industry.

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