Jamaica Observer: By Alicia Dunkley-Willis – The National Council on Drug Abuse (NCDA), in declaring that drug use is no longer just a public health issue but a public security threat, says it has received “a lot of calls” from individuals who reported that they had been sexually assaulted after being drugged with the popular Molly substance.

“Since we came out with the rapid assessment results and we have gone public with it, we have received a number of calls at the agency about personal accounts from people — young and young adults — who have been drugged unknowingly and sexually assaulted because of this whole increase in Molly use,” Uki Atkinson, research analyst at the council, told a session involving church leaders from several parishes recently.

Molly, a form of ecstasy but with the scientific name methylenedioxy-methamphetamine (MDMA), which is a synthetic, mind-altering drug with hallucinogenic effects, is produced in improvised labs and packaged in attractive ways to attract the youth, the council has said.

The growing use of Molly pills at parties was first brought to national attention by the Jamaica Observer in July this year through a series of stories and a video documentary entitled Molly Predicament.

The print and video productions featured health professionals from Heart Institute of the Caribbean, Pharmaceutical Society of Jamaica, and the South East Regional Health Authority warning that use of the drug poses serious threats to the heart and the brain.

At the time, the NCDA declined to comment on the development, saying that it would issue a comprehensive release on the matter “very soon”.

However, it wasn’t until September 1 that the NCDA, during a press conference at the Ministry of Health & Wellness, released a risk assessment study on Molly use which it said was conducted across 13 parishes in high schools among 160 students in grades eight to 10.

According to Atkinson, the unsuspecting are also falling victim to the pill’s charms.

“There are people who have called us who have said people took pictures of them and told them what they did the night before and they have no recollection and no knowledge of what it is that they were doing, so this is very serious situation,” Atkinson told the group.

“We have also heard from the Narcotics Division [of the Jamaica Constabulary Force] that they have seen a very significant increase in seizures of Molly pills over the past couple of months, so what this is telling us is that this thing is here, it is coming in more, and it is becoming even more popular,” she said further.

The NCDA researcher, who said the council has sought to collect samples of the pills to conduct chemical analysis to find out whether they were pure MDMA or a mixture, in the meantime issued this warning: “One of the things we want to emphasise is that drug use, and especially these kinds of drugs, is not just a public health issue, it is a public security issue.

“Why am I saying this? A lot of these crimes that we are seeing committed — some of the terrible, awful things people are doing — some of it may be due to the influence of substances like this.

“It could be the influence of substances like alcohol, but we also know that these substances impact human behaviour in different ways,” she told the group.

The NCDA, in the May 2022 rapid assessment study, which involved focus groups with 160 students and interviews with 20 guidance counsellors in 13 parishes, sought to find out the issues facing young people and the drugs they thought were most popular. These were Molly, vaping, and edibles.

In respect of Molly, she said, “young people were able to tell us things about Molly that indicate that it is quite widespread. They were able to tell us about the cost, how people use it…”

She said this was the case, with the exception of the Manchester focus group.

“You could close your eyes in some of the focus groups and it sounded the same — parish after parish after parish. The one focus group where Molly was not widely spoken about was in Manchester. This is not to say Molly is not in Manchester; it could have been the type of school we went to, but it struck us that …the ones in Manchester were not as (familiar with Molly), but they were able to talk about vaping,” she shared.

One student who shared knowledge of Molly told the NCDA researcher, “it around long time but it just a reach Jamaica…all over it sell, all on the roadside you can get that… I have a sibling, when he takes Molly is like him get dark, not in the talking, aggressive all the time”.

“Is a little pill, different colours. You can eat it whole and swallow it, you even break that up in a juice. All dem food dem crush it into,” individuals shared.

Chillingly, one participant said, “it basically gives you power and is like [if] you see anything, you just walk pass — you fear nothing. Anything come to your mind, you just do it, and you don’t fear and you don’t hold back.”

The Government earlier this month indicated that it will be updating the country’s laws to deal with the prevalence of the substance.

The NCDA in the May 2022 rapid assessment study which involved focus groups with 160 students and interviews with 20 guidance counsellors in 13 parishes, sought to find out the issues facing young people and the drugs they thought were most popular. These were Molly, vaping and edibles.