Firstly, MDMA, or 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine, was originally created in 1912 as a possible blood-clotting agent by the German pharmaceutical company Merck, according to archival research of that company’s records published in 2006 in the medical journal Addiction. Although it underwent animal testing soon after, it wasn’t tried on humans until the 1950s. In the mid-’70s, according to a 2010 Addiction article, a Dow chemist named Alexander Shulgin learned of its effects, resynthesized the drug, and performed tests on himself. Soon he was touting the drug for producing feelings of closeness and empathy. “Mucking around with brain chemistry is dangerous territory,” he says. But then you could say that about a lot of chemicals that are more socially acceptable. “I know alcohol is very dangerous,” adds Farb. “And yet drinking is pervasive in our culture, and I love to have a glass of wine with dinner.”
Furthermore, New York City released a statement following the deaths, blaming them on “the drug MDMA (ecstasy or Molly),” and then canceled the last day of the festival. The Verizon Wireless Arena in Manchester, New Hampshire, canceled an electronic dance music concert called the Barstool Blackout Tour. Newspapers around the country began sounding the alarm about Molly, warning of a “bad batch” of the drug going around the Northeast. Two other deaths — in New York in July and Washington, D.C., in August — are reportedly linked to the drug.
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Finally, Merner dismisses rumors of a particular “bad batch” of Molly being behind the overdoses last summer and fall. From them they seized a combined 100 grams of what turned out to be methylone, not MDMA. According to drug unit commander Patrick Glynn, the city licensing board members and police chief have been in discussions with the club’s owners as they conduct their investigations; still, the club may not open this summer. That, too, says Glynn, was methylone.