A new video by the Toronto police, Cooking with Molly (embedded below), correctly points out that most of what is sold as “Ecstasy” or “Molly” actually contains other, often more dangerous drugs. This is a step in the right direction in terms of harm reduction and drug education. However, there’s still much to criticize about this video, one that Detective Chris Scherk hopes will “resonate with youth and young adults.”
The video shows a man mixing methamphetamine and “bath salts” with what he says is “pure MDMA” and pressing it into a blue tablet. He only adds a “pinch” of bath salts to the mix because he doesn’t want to “burn down a city block.” The pure MDMA, for some inexplicable reason, is shown as a yellow-orange color. Towards the end of the video, the man’s off-screen accomplice says that next time they’re going to add heroin into the batch.
The video’s obvious goal is to scare young people away from trying Molly by increasing risk perception, in this case with a hefty dose of truth: Molly can be anything. However, if it were that easy to dissuade young people from using Molly, there would be no need for harm reduction to begin with. The fact is that despite the adulterated market, many young people have and will continue to seek out and consume MDMA. Would mentioning testing kits and the fact that there is a laboratory where you can send in your drugs to be tested have detracted from the goals of the video? We don’t think so. Real drug education is about more than just issuing warnings. It’s about empowering people with the tools and resources so they can use drugs more safely if they choose to do so.
There are real risks to using Molly, and harm reduction services like drug checking underscore those risks, help people stay safe, and increase risk perception all at the same time.
And what happens when young people inevitably find out that most of what they have taken (and enjoyed) was actually methylone, one of the cathinones or so-called “bath salts?” Will this video demonizing all bath salts make them more or less likely to test their pills next time? Food for thought.