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LectureHop: The Truth About Molly

Look at the blatant marketing to young teens!

Look at the blatant marketing to young teens!

On Wednesday evening, Columbia’s SSDP (Students for a Sensible Drug Policy) hosted a panel that gave the real story behind everyone’s mysterious friend: Molly. Somewhat sensible student Alexandra Avvocato was there, accompanied by Angel Jiang, who was there to explain the pop culture references.

As we walked into the Roone Cinema, hip-hop beats played from the speakers, lending a nicely awkward ambience. The promo image for the event loomed above us on the projector screen: “The Truth About Molly” accompanied by a little unicorn-decorated tablet, presumably Molly herself. Among the panelists were Allison Bajger, a doctoral candidate at Columbia; Ingmar Gorman, a doctoral candidate at the New School; Brittany Lewis of Global Grind; and Dr. Lewis-McCoy from CUNY’s City College. The wide range of expertise among the panelists exemplified the danger that my AP Euro teacher constantly warned us of: that which is broad must be shallow. While many interesting tidbits and pieces of trivia about MDMA were thrown around, there was little chance for the panelists to reach a deeper conclusion about the relationship of the drug with any community.

The panel began with — what else? — a video clip from Fox News, and frantic anchors with too much makeup warning parents that Molly was “no friend” to their innocent teens. The clip screamed about the dance club drug creating destructive addictions, leaving anonymously interviewed kids depressed and (it sounded like) nearly catatonic. Did you know that buying MDMA is “as easy as going into the store and buying Coca-Cola”?! Thankfully, the video ended soon after.

Allison Bajger opened the discussion with a purely scientific understanding of Molly, illustrating the chemical similarity of MDMA with amphetamine and methamphetamine. By citing blind experiments in which participants couldn’t distinguish between methamphetamines and MDMA, she argued for the similarity in perceived effect within the amphetamine family. So are you better off just taking some Adderall?

Ingmar Gorman had a more applicable view of MDMA, presenting a history of the positive therapeutic effects of the drug. His views certainly have some strong support: during the video that preceded Bajger’s speech, the creator of MDMA in the 1960s described it as “a window into the world as it is.” And in several cases over the past few decades, MDMA dosages have helped patients with severe trauma recover from their experience when traditional therapy failed. In fact, from the mid-1970’s to the early 1980’s, around 500,000 doses of MDMA were administered for therapeutic reasons. Ahhh, nostalgia.

The easy and inevitable humor came with Brittany Lewis, who began her presentation with an MTV clip of Snoop Lion, who “just wants [you] to be careful,” and a host of other rappers with amusing sayings about Molly (“errybody on Molly now”). Then, of course, the litany of music video excerpts that featured the little lady; there was naturally generous use of Trinidad James. Despite the musical entertainment, though, her portion of the lecture could be summed up as: “Lots of black rap and hip-hop artists talk about Molly in their music.” To her credit, she complicated her point during the question and answer period by adding that many of those artists had confirmed to her that they didn’t, in fact, take MDMA regularly. Still, it’s not the greatest revelation that most artists sing about things that they don’t actually do.

Ending the series of presentations, Dr. Lewis-McCoy won frequent and relieved bursts of laughter from the audience as the one “hip with the kids” panelist who clearly knew his 80’s and 90’s rap and hip-hop. He also gave specific examples of the rampant and horrifying misconceptions about MDMA (one particularly entertaining “PSA” claimed that it was a combination of heroin, crack, and Adderall). Of all the lecturers, he gave the least equivocal opinions, clearly stating that MDMA needed to be legalized independently of the stigma surrounding the “black, brown, and poor communities,” which it’s been associated with for most of its legal history.

It was clear from each one of the panelists that MDMA is one of the most mysterious and misunderstood drugs commonly used today; but that’s something we clearly already know, or else why would this lecture have taken place? The closest the lecture got to a real step forward was Lewis-McCoy’s comment near the end of the discussion, that he would encourage rappers to team up with education organizations to spread public awareness about MDMA. I was waiting to hear about a potential new avenue towards changing the understanding of MDMA, and towards revolutionizing the attitude towards it both within the hip-hop community and within the legislative community. The wide range of the panel, though, made a deeper thread of conversation impossible to follow.

“The demon drug” according to Fox News via Wikimedia 

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6 Comments

  • Trinidad James says:

    @Trinidad James On Instagram straight flexin….

  • how article writing works says:

    @how article writing works first you describe what happened at the event. then, you provide some analysis/interpretation. so no need to put “While many interesting tidbits and pieces of trivia about MDMA were thrown around, there was little chance for the panelists to reach a deeper conclusion about the relationship of the drug with any community.” in the first paragraph because somebody who wasn’t there doesn’t know what the fukk your talking about.

  • Anonymous says:

    @Anonymous Sorry, bwog. I gotta agree. This is not the best article you’ve ever written.

  • Lilith says:

    @Lilith It’s a shame that MDMA is quite rare in the U.S. People are buying what they think is MDMA but are indeed buying Methylone, MPDV and other research chemicals that make you feel high and stimulated but lack the “magic” of MDMA.

  • Malakkar says:

    @Malakkar Chemical elitism is the slippery slope back to prohibition.

    Both methylone and MDPV have their purposes; they are not necessary coincidental with MDMA, Saying they lack the “magic” of MDMA puts MDMA on a platform, an undeserved one, and one used very often to stigmatize or otherwise disparage.

    These are all chemicals, they should be used as needed for whatever purposes they’re best suited for. Some field reports place methylone above MDMA for emotional exploration, due to a diminished perception of “rush” intoxication effects, allowing the user to not be distracted by the onset of its effects. Further research into methylone’s therapeutic potential has unfortunately been shut down in the U.S. by knee-jerk reactions and media demonizing. As an MDMA beta ketone, its chemical structure showed a lot of promise as a less-intense intoxicant, which could be critical for whose who have exhibited a high level ofsensitivity to MDMA.

    That being said, passing off methylone as MDMA is dishonest, criminal, and potentially dangerous activity. It is also the direct consequence of the current use of prohibition, rather than sanity, in developing and executing drug policy in the U.S., with influences having exported the lunacy nearly worldwide.

    MDMA is not quite rare, ecstasydata.org placed 17% of samples pure in 2012 and 18% were MDMA and something else. While the adulteration is problematic, and unfortunate, it belies the claim that MDMA is quite rare. 1 in 3 cases, MDMA was present in a sample submitted. Take context – these are not random samples, these are specifically sent to ecstasydata.org because they are suspected to be fake or adulterated. It is uncertain how this affects the overall picture. but regardless lays false the claim of rarity.

    As to the article, it closes poorly, MDMA is not the least understood or mysterious chemical or psychoactive out there. Ibogaine’s ability to completely disrupt addiction, even the hardcore physical pain level of deep heroin addiction, so that an addict doesn’t feel pain the next day when they don’t “get well” is much more mysterious. Why almost all DMT-using cultures feature artwork with dual helices, entertwined snakes, and similar symbolism in the shape/form of DNA is another much more interesting inquiry, IMO, then a stimulant with promising therapeutic traits unfairly banned by knee-jerk cultural reactionism rooted in Puritan beliefs circa 1700.

  • RPel says:

    @RPel Yeah, whomever wrote this knows little of MDMA. It is most commonly used by rich middle class white kids.
    There are very real dangers that come with taking an unknown substance that someone claims to be MDMA because it comes in a blue pill with a butterfly, or even worse, a gelatin capsule with white powder in it. You have no idea whats in that stuff unless you test it, therefore, that Fox News video has a leg to stand on. I would not want my kids taking random mysterious white powders. MDMA is pretty safe… when you know it is MDMA.

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