BANGOR, Maine — Drug dealers in the Bangor area and beyond are deceiving their customers by selling synthetic bath salts and calling it “Molly,” which is the nickname for the primary ingredient in the hallucinogenic substance Ecstasy, an agent with the Maine Drug Enforcement Agency said Friday.
“They’re calling it Molly, and a lot of people subsequently don’t realize it’s bath salts,” said Christopher Gardner, special agent with MDEA, describing the mislabeling as “a marketing tool.”
Molly, short for molecule, is considered to be pure methylenedioxymethlamphetamine, or MDMA, the major chemical ingredient in Ecstasy, a club drug popular among college-age people. Molly has been linked to two deaths in New York City on Aug. 31 during an electronic music festival called the Electric Zoo that caused city officials to close down the gathering on Randall’s Island.
The New York City medical examiner’s office said Friday that one of the two who died actually overdosed on both Molly and bath salts.
Although they have different effects on users, both Molly and bath salts are very dangerous, Gardner said.
Molly is a synthetic, psychoactive drug that has similarities to both the stimulant amphetamine and the hallucinogen mescaline, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse website.
“It produces feelings of increased energy, euphoria, emotional warmth and empathy toward others, and distortions in sensory and time perception,” the website states.
Bath salts are a family of drugs containing one or more synthetic chemicals related to cathinone, an amphetamine-like stimulant found naturally in the Khat plant. It is also a psychoactive drug that can cause users to have chest pains, increased blood pressure, increased heart rate, agitation, hallucinations, extreme paranoia and delusions, the National Institute on Drug Abuse website states.
Drug agents discovered that local dealers are selling the bath salts component Methylone, or bk-MDMA, as Molly, Gardner said.
Ecstasy, which was banned in the U.S. in 1985, is generally laced with other ingredients, such as caffeine or methamphetamine, according to the website drugfree.org.
State lawmakers, in July 2011, banned bath salts — mephedrone, Methylone and methylenedioxypyrovalerone, known as MDPV, and similar substances — in Maine, where it is sold under names such as monkey dust, Rave-on and Kryptonite, and has been linked to a handful of deaths in the Bangor area.
The federal government in late 2011 also outlawed bath salts, which once were sold at convenience stores and smoke shops around the country, including Maine, but not in Bangor. It emerged as a street drug in the Queen City in February 2011.
“When bath salts first arrived we were seeing two groups of users, those using dust, MDPV, and a group of people using methylone,” Gardner said. “The ones using the dust were the ones having hallucinations and psychotic behaviors — the things you’ve seen reported in the Bangor Daily News.
“The second group were using what they’re [now] calling Molly, which mimics Ecstasy. [It is similar to MDPV] but is a stimulant and a hallucinogen,” the drug agent said. “That still goes on today.”
Drug agents in the Bangor region have also seen the crazy things drug dealers use to stretch the drug, in order to make more profit, he said.
“We’ve seen people cutting bath salts with pancake mix or foot powder,” Gardner said. “When profit margins are involved, they are going to cut it to increase their profits and they don’t care what they use.”
The drugs found on the streets in Maine are all coming from China and India, he said.
Real Molly was sold in the Bangor area during the Phish concert on July 3, and resulted in two arrests, said Bangor police Lt. Steve Hunt, who now is a Maine Drug Enforcement Agency supervisory special agent based in Bangor. Four people in Maine have been arrested this year with MDMA, he said.