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Ultra Fans Faced New Barriers To Bringing Molly Into The Festival

Pressed pills and capsules of "molly," the common name for MDMA, a drug popular among festivalgoers.

During his sophomore year of high school, Topher started listening to electronic music in the vein of dubstep and drum and bass. Soon he got hooked onto the rest of the electronic musical tree.

Now he's a 21-year-old psychology student at Florida International University. He asked that we not use his full name, because during this year's Winter Music Conference, he plans on rolling. 

"Rolling" commonly refers to consuming molly, a hallucinogenic amphetamine-like drug marketed asMDMA. At least that’s what it’s supposed to be.

Pressed pills and capsules of "molly," the common name for MDMA, a drug popular among festivalgoers.
Credit Source / Courtesy
Pressed pills and capsules of "molly," the common name for MDMA, a drug popular among festivalgoers.

“Molly is a very general name,"Tophersays. "People will call anything molly and sell it to you.”

Topher says those buyers of the $10­ to $20 pills run the risk of purchasing something that's spliced with other substances.

“If someone wanted to go out and buy ecstasy pills for the first time, or MDMA for the first time, they might not know exactly what they’re getting. They don’t know the purity," Topher says. "It could be ketamine, it could be mescaline, it could be something else.”

Topher says molly pills differ in quality, origin and how they’re made. The drug is usually either pressed into a pill form or synthesized into powder and then placed into capsules. Molly can also be dissolved into water, making it easier to hide and share, the end product typically called "molly water."

Topher says at Ultra Music Festival, going on this weekend in downtown Miami, "it's mostly people either really drunk or more on pills."

The drug's presence at Ultra is an open secret acknowledged during the 2012 festival, when pop singer Madonna asked the crowd at the main stage, "How many people in this crowd have seen Molly?"

Not all festivalgoers indulge in drugs. But users do take a risk for the pleasure they receive. The National Institute on Drug Abuse reports that after MDMA’s three-to-six-hour effects wear off, users can experience confusion, depression, anxiety and trouble with sleep.

For users like Topher, who acknowledge the drug’s risks, the flood of serotonin their brains receive is worth it.

“The first thing you want to do is dance,” he says. “It feels like music reaches out to you.”

At 2013's Ultra, Topher bought and consumed the drug inside festival grounds. Attempting that again will be more difficult for this year’s Ultra due to new rules.

"No backpacks. No purses,” said Raymond Martinez, head of security for Ultra. The former Miami Beach Police chief says the the rule was implemented as a means to control for explosives and weapons, as well as the entry of drugs.

Several 12-foot-high gates used for the Formula E race downtown will be used this year. The concrete and steel barriers are sealed off with wood and are aimed at preventing gate­crashers like the ones that trampled security guard Erica Mack last year. Martinez says all 300 officers working the festival, both uniformed and undercover, will enact a zero-tolerance policy toward illicit drug use.

“Any of our staff, any of our security, any of our police officers see something... they’re not just going to let it go,” said Martinez.

He also mentioned the festival partnered with Baptist Health South Florida to provide drug information and counseling for attendees, a first.

There will also be a number of "amnesty boxes" in place nearing the festival entrance, where those who have any illegal drugs on them can discard them, no questions asked.

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Diego Saldaña-Rojas