Molly can mean different things to different people. In its pure form, molly is MDMA (3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine), which can produce feelings of euphoria, affection, and energy. It became famous as the popular club drug “ecstasy ” throughout the 80s and 90s. Today, it’s still a favorite in rave culture—but it also has new uses today. MDMA, in combination with psychotherapy, is increasingly being studied for the treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder. MDMA is sometimes referred to as an empathogen or an entactogen.
The term empathogen, coined by Ralph Metzner, describes the effects of MDMA: The drug is considered prosocial, inspiring feelings of love and connection. David E. Nichols later coined the term entactogen to describe MDMA, meaning “producing touching within.” Australia recently rescheduled MDMA for therapeutic use. In the US, MDMA-assisted therapy is pending approval from the Food and Drug Administration. In these clinical settings, therapists provide pure MDMA, which is manufactured for medical environments.
In underground markets, the story is a bit different. “Unfortunately, the legal status of MDMA means that there are a lot of substances floating around, being sold as MDMA, that are actually a different substance entirely,” says Dan Burns of DanceWize NSW, a non-profit that provides harm reduction services in New South Wales, Australia. “One of the greatest risks associated with MDMA, or other drug use, in an unregulated environment, is the unknowns about the substance itself: What is it? How pure is it? Is it even the substance I believe I am taking?” Burns also says that MDMA can have contraindications with perscription medications.
Without reliable drug testing or a form of safe access, it’s impossible to tell one powder or pill from another, which means that you won’t know whether or not you have MDMA without testing with a drug-checking kit. Underground MDMA often contains adulterants, making it easier to generate a larger profit for sellers. And it may be even more common for molly to be contaminated when it is blue in color. “The color can be due to impurities or dyes to make it more appealing,” says Anton Gomez-Escolar, psychopharmacologist and drug expert at Drogopedia. However, the effects and safety of blue molly vary greatly from pill to pill or bag to bag—as with any molly.
“The color can be due to impurities or dyes to make it more appealing.”
Is Blue Molly Different From Other Colors?
Pure MDMA is a crystalline white powder, which looks similar to sugar—though molly can look like this and still be laced with other substances, and powder molly can be blue. Ecstasy pills can come in pretty much any color of the rainbow, which sometimes makes it easier to disguise other substances, known as contaminants or mixers.
The most common contaminants in MDMA are methamphetamine and amphetamine, followed by cocaine, MDA (a substance similar to MDMA with more hallucinogenic and stimulating effects), and bath salts, according to a 2019 study of 351 electronic dance party attendees in New York City published in Drug and Alcohol Review. A 2016 study found methamphetamine and bath salts commonly appeared together. Other possible MDMA mixers include fentanyl, caffeine, and ketamine. Even small amounts of fentanyl can be lethal, so it’s important to test your MDMA with a fentanyl testing strip before taking it. Testing can reduce risks, but won’t eliminate risks alltogehter.
A 2018 study of reports from MDMA testing services found that the most common type of ecstasy pill used worldwide was “blue dolphin,” which is blue with a dolphin design on it. Other variations of blue, white, green, red, yellow, and purple pills were also common. Another study of drug testing data analyzed by FHE Health found that under a third of ecstasy pills consisted of pure MDMA, with black, purple, and green pills most frequently being contaminated. Only 40 percent of blue pills known as “Maserati” contained pure MDMA.
“It seems the mixers tend to go well with blue coloring, so a lot of mixers that they’re putting in are found in the blue ones,” says James Giordano, professor of neurology and biochemistry at Georgetown University Medical Center. “Initially, it was anecdotal evidence, but it seems to be backed up by objective findings.”
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However, this doesn’t mean that blue molly always contains impurities or that other colors are safe. The proportion of blue pills with contaminants is simply higher, Giordano explains. As Gomez-Escolar puts it, “the effects and safety of MDMA are more related to its composition and the presence of adulterants rather than its color.”
Effects of Blue Molly
The effects of blue molly will vary based on what else is in the pill. Some “MDMA” pills—46 percent, according to a 2006 study in Drug and Alcohol Dependence—contain no MDMA at all. A 2017 study suggests that, in 529 samples of proclaimed MDMA collected by DanceSafe in the United States, MDMA was identified in 60 percent. But, just because MDMA is present doesn’t mean other things aren’t—a study of 11 samples of confiscated MDMA in Sao Paulo, Brazil found that MDMA concentrations ranged from zero to 63 percent. If a substance is indeed MDMA, it will have typical MDMA effects such as gregariousness, intense desire for and enjoyment of touch, and decreased inhibitions regardless of the color.
“The blue MDMA rocks were a really nice and euphoric high that lasted only a few hours and allowed me to fall asleep afterwards,” remembers Camille, a 31-year-old editor in Los Angeles, who has ingested blue molly in powder (“rock”) and pill form. “It was honestly a lovely experience. I also tried a triangle-shaped blue ecstasy pill, but the effects were less euphoric and more energizing. In the end, I think I took too much of the triangle-shaped pill, which kept me up all night and made me anxious.”
READ: MDMA: What is Molly?
Grace, a 38-year-old public servant in New York, got blue ecstasy pills from a friend who lived in Germany earlier this year; he described them as feeling “four times a regular dose.” She tested them with a DanceSafe kit and found out that they contained MDMA. Even though she took just a quarter at a time, it was “way more potent than expected,” she says. “It was a little surprising how much of a roll it was.”
Common Contaminants in Blue Molly
While there isn’t much data, ketamine, fentanyl, and bath salts appear to be particularly common contaminants in blue molly, says Giordano. All of these are very concerning: Not only is fentanyl potentially fatal, but bath salts are “toxic to the brain,” and ketamine can send you into a state of confusion, immobility, and detachment from reality known as a K-hole, Giordano explains. “You think you’re going to get an ecstasy effect, but you actually get a K-hole effect.”
Most blue molly is in pill form, but there can also be contaminants in blue powder molly, says Giordano. In 2018, harm reduction organization DanceSafe received a report of a “tealish blue crystalline substance” that was advertised as “blue molly” in Jacksonville, Florida. Testing revealed that it did not contain MDMA but instead was a synthetic cathinone, also known as a bath salt. “We urge our community to keep in mind that drug markets are expansive, and these substances may appear in locations other than the submission’s origins,” DanceSafe’s notice reads.Similarly, in 2021, a blue crystalline substance was sold as MDMA in multiple cities in Spain, but testing by Energy Control—another harm reduction organization—revealed that it was, in fact, copper sulfate pentahydrate, a plant pesticide. Users reported that the effects felt “very bad.”
Testing Blue Molly
If you come across blue molly and want to take it, Giordano strongly suggests testing it first. You can get a drug testing kit through Bunk Police or DanceSafe, which will indicate the presence of MDMA after you mix some of it with liquid solutions containing other chemicals. “It’s probably in people’s best interest to purchase a well-respected test kit,” says Giordano, regardless of the color of their MDMA. “When you’re buying recreational drugs and you’re having a street source buy them, which characteristically is an illicit source, quality control is always an issue.”
If you’re at a public event like a music festival, there also may be a booth run by a company like DanceSafe that will test your drugs for you. In addition, you can mail MDMA to a service like DrugsData or Energy Control that uses advanced laboratory testing. But you need to send in a whole pill and you won’t get it back, so this only makes sense if you have multiple pills. Mailing controlled substances is not legal in the United States, but DrugsData provides recommendations on listing a return address and mailing samples from abroad on their FAQ page.
If you can’t test blue molly, Giordano cautions against taking it: “Today, I’d say avoid the blue ones; they just have the highest proportion of impurities to date. That’s a hell of a gamble.”
Harm Reduction for Blue Molly
If you’re going to use any kind of MDMA, it’s best to do it around someone you trust, says psychedelic-assisted psychotherapist Dr. Cat Meyer. If you’re alone and end up needing help, you can call a hotline like the Fireside Project or Never Use Alone.
If you’re around other people, Meyer suggests having a conversation in advance about what you do and don’t consent to doing with them, sexual and otherwise, as your ability to consent will be compromised when you’re under the influence of MDMA. “It’s best practice to make clear designations of boundaries and consent before any mind-altering substances are taken,” she says.
In addition, Meyer recommends talking to a healthcare provider before using MDMA if you’re on any psychotropic medications. If you don’t feel comfortable talking to your doctor, psychiatric pharmacist Ben Malcom offers consultations and information on drug interactions at The Spirit Pharmacist.
Though hallucinogens are more likely to lead to psychosis than MDMA, there have been reports of MDMA-induced psychosis, which could be more likely if the drug is laced with something else. Meyer recommends avoiding psychedelics if you have a personal or family history of psychosis or bipolar I disorder. Lastly, Meyer adds, “have food and water available should your blood sugar levels spike or you get dehydrated during the experience.”
Another Form of “Blue Molly”: MDEA
The term “blue molly” can also—though less commonly—refer to blue MDEA (3,4-methylenedioxyethylamphetamine), according to Gomez-Escolar. “Like MDMA, the color (blue in this case) doesn’t necessarily indicate its specific properties,” he says. “MDEA is less common and has slightly different effects compared to MDMA, but overall is almost the same.” Specifically, they’re both empathogen–entactogens, meaning that they make you more empathetic and emotionally open.
Although MDEA is far less common than MDMA, it used to be more popular in clubs, raves, and even underground therapy, Gomez-Escolar explains. “Similar to MDMA, harm reduction strategies for MDEA include testing the substance, avoiding mixing it with other drugs or alcohol, staying hydrated while being mindful of not drinking excessive water, monitoring body temperature, and using it in a controlled and safe environment.”
Supporting a Friend Who Has Taken MDMA?
The environment that you choose to use MDMA matters. Dan Burns from DanceWize NSW provided a list of things to consider if you’re supporting a friend on MDMA.
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- Plan with them beforehand: Have a good chat with your friend before they take the substance. Ask about their intentions, and make sure you know what the substance is and how much they intend to use. This will better prepare you to support your friend through their experience, whether it be to dance all night at a festival or for a therapeutic purpose.
- Have an Emergency Plan: Plan beforehand what you will do if something goes wrong. This might include an activity (like putting on their favourite movie or doing some colouring) if they are overwhelmed. If your friend has a bad reaction to a substance and you are concerned for their safety, call emergency services without delay.
- Look after yourself: If you are not in a great place mentally or emotionally, consider whether you’re the best person to sit with your friend at that time. Maybe another friend would be better suited, or perhaps your friend can put the experience off until a time when you’re in a place to support them safely.
- Help Manage the Setting: For the most comfortable experience, make sure they are in a safe place to go through their experience. If they have taken the substance at a party or rave and they are feeling overwhelmed, take them somewhere quiet where you can sit with them and provide the support they need. If it’s at home, use fans or air conditioning to avoid them overheating and set up some comfy spots to sit or lay down.
- Manage Boundaries: MDMA can cause an increase in libido; make sure you are comfortable managing boundaries with your friend. Sex should be off the cards for someone in a psychedelic crisis or therapeutic setting.
- Stay Calm: MDMA tends to increase feelings of empathy, and your friend will likely know if you’re on edge, which they may begin to experience themselves. Staying calm, speaking slowly, and reassuring them will help to support their mood and experience.
- Listen to Them: When trip-sitting, it’s important to allow the person to express themselves. It can be tempting to try to guide their experience, but it’s best to allow them to find their own path. If you have planned with them beforehand about what they would like you to provide in terms of directing the experience, gently guide the conversation in the agreed direction as necessary.
In the event of an emergency, please dial local emergency services. For mental health services related to substance abuse in the U.S., please dial the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration National Helpline at +1 (800) 662-4357.
This article is intended for harm reduction purposes and should not be used in place of medical advice. DoubleBlind does not advocate participating in illicit activities. Always consult your local drug laws before engaging with any unregulated substance.
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