Excitement is in the air, and white powder covers the counter. Another EDM concert is coming to the Mullins Center, and another grand is about to enter the safe. It’s as simple as that, really. Phones are ringing off the hook, students are scrambling around, and drugs are being sold. UMass students have found molly and someone has to supply it.
A UMass student I will refer to as Todd has taken molly 50-75 times, beginning in junior year of high school, “back before [molly] was a mystery box.”
MDMA is a designer drug, and as it became popular with young adults, drug dealers started mixing it or replacing it with other drugs, creating a “mystery box.” Methylone, cocaine, heroine, meth and ketamine are used in many batches of molly. These drugs produce similar effects to MDMA, for instance methylone, which is most commonly found in bath salts, is much more toxic than MDMA, and at a much lower dose. People think the molly they are buying is pure MDMA because it looks the same, but without thorough testing, there is no way to be sure.
When you imagine a drug dealer, whom do you see? A shady guy hanging around the playground? A woman on the side of the road wearing next to nothing? Bryan Cranston from Breaking Bad? I bet you didn’t picture the kid sitting next to you in math or the sushi roller at Berkshire Dining Commons. But behold, your typical UMass student could have a big secret hiding up their sleeve.
“Freshman year, I sold weed and cocaine,” says Todd, “and sophomore year, I sold molly. A friend of mine who sold drugs gave me the idea, and I started selling too. Per ounce, I would more than double my money. Molly is pretty easy to find most of the time, especially on this campus. I bought a scale at a local smoke shop and some plastic bags. That’s all I needed.”
If someone died at a concert after taking the drugs Todd sold he said he “would’ve felt absolutely responsible,” but he didn’t test the drugs before distributing them. “I never took that on as my responsibility,” he said, “I relied on what I like to call ‘test dummies’. You’d be surprised how many kids are willing to take drugs they know nothing about. They would just tell me how it was and I would take their word for it.” Thankfully, no harm ever came from this type of drug testing.
The demand for molly is why Todd, along with many others who choose to sell drugs, make such a big profit. His biggest clients? “Basically, anyone going to concerts or festivals. I tried to sell to a group of people that I knew. People came at different times throughout the day to pick up [their drugs] and my phone would ring constantly on days of events.” People who take molly experience heightened sensations and connection to the people around them. Most people want to talk, dance, and touch to intensify the experience, which is why the drug is commonly associated with rave and dance club cultures.
Electronic music, as a genre, gets a reputation for its drug culture, which was addressed in an email to UMass students about the cancellation of EDM events. “The Molly-taking culture at these shows is real and now exceedingly dangerous to the health and safety of concert attendees,” said Enku Gelaye, UMass’ Vice Chancellor. Students voiced their concerns on Twitter by tweeting “Yeah good idea umass, because I’m sure simply canceling the edm shows here will stop every student from ever taking molly again…” and “Bring back EDM concerts at Umass!! Everyone go sign the petition in front of student union.” Alexa Scott, a junior at UMass, said “I am very upset about UMass cancelling EDM events because I consider myself to be a true fan of the music.” She adds, “I understand that UMass is trying to protect the safety of the students, but it would have been more beneficial to increase security and educate us on drug safety. If kids want to take drugs they will find a way to do so, whether there are concerts or not.”
Todd had a different perspective from the popular opinion on campus. “If I was the Chancellor of UMass, I would cancel these concerts too. Kids are irresponsible with their drug use. They don’t know what they’re putting into their bodies.” Although Todd would’ve personally attended and supplied drugs to many other students, he still feels that responsible drug use is important.
These cancellations would have had a massive impact on Todd’s success as a drug dealer. The cancellations would have “completely destroyed my business operation and profits, as my most profitable days were the days of events. Without them, it would take me triple the time to move the product. I probably wouldn’t continue selling [if events were cancelled]. It wouldn’t be worth it. The majority of my clientele would be gone,” he said.
The connection between molly and EDM is often made and just as often is questioned. Many aspects of pop culture glorify molly, but undoubtedly EDM is a strong promoter. At UMass, it seems clear. Through the perspective of a drug dealer and a business operation, it is easy to see that EDM events cause a notable spike in drug usage. That doesn’t mean this is the only time students take molly, but it is embedded in the electronic dance culture and events, especially at UMass. Only time will tell if concert cancellations will change this cultural norm.
As for Todd? The police caught wind of the operation and shut it down. The only reason it lasted so long was “luck.” He said, “I understand what I did could have hurt people. But it was fun. I didn’t take a cent out of my bank account for months.” The product he sold? “God only knows what it really was.” ###