Is MDMA the New Drug of Choice Among New York’s Elite?

The Daily Mail Originally appearing here.

It’s a fixture at raves, birthday gatherings and dinner soirees that’s considered ‘more respectable’ than other hard party drugs.

While MDMA was used to get psychotheraphy patients talking in the 1970s before hitting New York nightclubs in the 1980s, ‘Molly’ has found a new following in a generation of conscientious professionals who probably haven’t ever been to a rave or therapist.

Known for inducing feelings of euphoria, warmth and diminished anxiety, 3,4-methylenedioxy-N-methylamphetamine has been embraced by everyone from Wall Street traders to Williamsburg hipsters – a trend of great concern to medical professionals.

A recent NY Times feature examining the growing acceptance of Molly on New York’s party scene found most users considered the drug a healthier alternative to other stimulants.

Cocaine is believed to be ‘sort of grimy and passe’ and makes your nose ‘raw’, while marijuana ‘smells.. and is also sort of low rent and junior high’.

A New York woman, Elliot, who works in film, took Molly a few months ago at a friend’s apartment before having dinner at a ‘macrobiotic, natural organic’ then going dancing.

‘I’ve always been somewhat terrified of drugs,’ the 26-year-old told NY Times.

‘But I’d been curious about Molly, which is sold as this pure, fun-loving drug.

‘This is probably completely naiive, but I felt I wasn’t putting as many scary chemicals into my body.’

But Robert Glatter, an emergency-room physician at Lenox Hill Hospital on the Upper East Side, said more users are being hospitalized than ever before.

He said he sees about four patients a month exhibiting its common side effects, such as teeth grinding, dehydration, anxiety, insomnia, fever and loss of appetite.

The drug in pill, powder or crystalline form costs between $20 and $50 a hit.

‘Typically in the past we’d see rave kids, but now we’re seeing more people into their 30s and 40s experimenting with it,’ Dr. Glatter told NY Times.

‘MDMA use has increased dramatically. It’s really a global phenomenon now.’

He said it is possible to overdose on MDMA, but usually when mixed with another drug.

According to the Tampa Tribune, part of MDMA’s increasing popularity is being fueled by hip hop culture.

Devron Kelly, one of the ‘Hip-Hop Flavors’ radio show hosts on WMNF, said MDMA has become hip hop’s go-to pharmaceutical as rappers such as Trinidad James worked it into their lyrics.

James’ ‘All Gold Everything’ was a watershed with its ‘Popped a Molly, I’m sweatin’ line – suddenly everyone wanted some.

‘The impact that that song had is what really turned things around for it,’ he said.

‘Basically, it’s just a new drug, so you’re going to have kids experimenting with whatever they hear the latest rappers talking about.’

At the Ultra Music Festival in Miami last year, Madonna asked the audience about Molly and was roundly criticized.

She said she was referring to a friend’s song, not the drug.

Rick Ross was recently dropped as a Reebok spokesman after he rapped about spiking a woman’s Champagne with Molly.’I think the biggest difference with Molly as opposed to previous drugs in relation to hip hop is that in past generations people would rap about selling drugs, and now they’re rapping about doing them,’ Mike Barnes, another host of the ‘Hip-Hop Flavors’ show, told Tampa Tribune.

‘With crack there was a high level of shame associated with using it… It wasn’t really a chic or sexy thing.’

MDMA was first classified as an illegal substance in 1985.

By the early 2000s, public officials warned that MDMA use could lead to Parkinson’s disease, a lifetime of depression and ‘holes in your brain’.

Dr. John Halpern, a psychiatrist at Harvard who has conducted several MDMA studies, told NY Times those claims have been disproved.

But he said a major concern is that many of the powders sold as Molly contain no MDMA whatsoever.

Despite promises of greater purity and potency, Molly is now thought to be as contaminated as Ecstasy once was.

‘You’re fooling yourself if you think it’s somehow safer because it’s sold in powdered form,’ Dr. Halpern said.

Rick Doblin, the founder of the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies, said current MDMA use is a sign of the times.

Just as 1960s hippies used LSD to ‘find themselves’ spiritually, MDMA helps to promotes feelings of bonding and human connection in a highly alienating world.

‘As we move more and more electronic, people are extremely hungry for the opposite: human interaction on a deeper level where you’re not rushing around,’ Mr. Doblin told NY Times.

‘The rise of Molly is in tune with how people are feeling emotionally.’
The Daily Mail analyzes the recent popularity of MDMA, providing quotes from scientists and recreational users.