Dance Drug Molly May Be Linked to Deaths in Boston, New York, D.C.
The Boston Police Department was already investigating a suspected overdose of a woman who collapsed at the Boston House of Blues and died early the morning of Aug. 28. Earlier this summer, at least a dozen non-lethal overdoses of the drug were reported at Ocean Club in the Boston suburb of Quincy, enough to prompt an undercover police sting and arrests in early September.
The news comes on the heels of an ABC News report that investigators in three U.S. cities are probing whether a string of overdoses is tied to the party drug MDMA, a powder billed as a pure form of the club drug ecstasy, but which may have been altered with unknown additives.
"We won't really know for sure until the toxicology reports are back," said Cheryl Fiandaca, a spokeswoman for the Boston Police Department, in perhaps two weeks. "But they're being investigated as molly-related."
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, "MDMA is (3.4-methylenedioxy-methamphetamine), popularly known as ecstasy or, more recently, as molly -- a synthetic, psychoactive drug that has similarities to both the stimulant amphetamine and the hallucinogen mescaline. It produces feelings of increased energy, euphoria, emotional warmth and empathy toward others, and distortions in sensory and time perception." The NIDA said research on its addictiveness has "varied," but that "MDMA can have many of the same physical effects as other stimulants like cocaine and amphetamines. These include increases in heart rate and blood pressure, which are particularly risky for people with circulatory problems or heart disease. MDMA users may experience other symptoms such as muscle tension, involuntary teeth clenching, nausea, blurred vision, faintness and chills or sweating."
The known recent suspected molly-- short for molecule -- cases began as the Labor Day weekend got started early for some college students. On Aug. 28, a Wednesday, three people unknown to one another collapsed in apparent overdoses at or near the House of Blues, according to bpdnews.com, Boston PD's news blog. A young woman died, and two others were hospitalized in serious condition.
Then came Saturday, Aug. 31. In three different cities, at least eight people appeared to have overdosed, half of them fatally, at music shows particularly popular with college-age students, according to police and widespread news accounts.
At the Bank of America Pavilion concert by STS9, three men in their 20s were believed to have overdosed. The same day in northeast Washington, D.C., University of Virginia honors student Mary "Shelly" Goldsmith, 19, collapsed at a rave party at Echo Stage, and Robert G. Goldsmith said his daughter's friends told him she'd taken the drug, according to the Washington Post
At the Electric Zoo musical festival in New York City that same day, four people overdosed on what was reported to be the same drug, and two of them died. The final day of the Labor Day weekend concert was canceled.
Some experts questioned whether the MDMA was from a single altered batch of the drug, something law enforcement is investigating in the Boston, New York and Washington D.C. cases, or was not molly at all.
"There is no good batch of molly,"Erin Mulvey, Drug Enforcement Agency spokeswoman, told ABC News, which noted that the federal agency has been aiding local law enforcement investigating the cases in the three cities. "These deaths unfortunately show the end result of what can happen when someone takes what they think is molly."
Molly has been pedaled by drug dealers as pure MDMA, which is the primary component of ecstasy, and an ingredient that is manufactured. But the reality, law enforcement and academic experts say, is that it can be contaminated like other drugs with fillers such as baby powder, harmful ingredients such as dexedrine, methylone -- even rat poison -- if it has any MDMA at all.
"Kids are taking it, and they just think it's molly," the DEA's Mulvey told ABC, "but they really have no idea ... what's in it."