Pubdate: Mon, 25 Aug 2014
Source: Fort McMurray Today (CN AB)
Copyright: 2014 Fort McMurray Today
Author: Angela Hennessy Page: 10


Toronto - Shannon first tried the party drug MDMA six years ago at a
club when she was 20.

There to see a new electronic dance music (EDM) DJ with her friends,
she said the show opened her up to a whole new experience.

"I loved it. There is something about the music and the drug that
makes you feel so good," the 26-year-old said about her feelings of
being high back then.

However, recently she has become very reluctant to purchase MDMA -
commonly known as "Molly" - because of the high risk that the drugs
are laced with something else.

"It's like playing Russian Roulette every time you take it now, you
just have no idea what you are going to be getting."

The key ingredient in ecstacy, MDMA can trigger feelings of mental
stimulation, emotional warmth, empathy toward others and a general
sense of well being.

Despite the well-known risks attached to the sometimes volatile drug,
it is as popular as ever and very much a part of mainstream drug use.
Taking ecstasy at music festivals or raves is not a new thing but the
growing culture of using MDMA at multi-day EDM festivals can have
lethal consequences.

Three young people died of drug overdoses at two different music
festivals in Canada over the August long weekend.

Willard Amurao, 22, and Annie Truong-Le, 20, died after taking "party
drugs" at VELD music fest in Toronto. More than 10 other people who
attended the festival ended up in hospital after taking an unknown

That same weekend during the Boonstock music fest in Penticton, B.C. a
24-year-old woman died after a suspected overdose and over 80 people
were hospitalized.

"It is absolutely everywhere at these shows, but you never know really
what you're getting," Shannon said. "It's popular because MDMA helps
gives you the energy you might want for these two-day shows."

According to a recent Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH)
study, MDMA has been laced with a range of substances, including
caffeine, LSD and ketamine. The report adds: "A major factor in many
ecstasy-related deaths is the dehydration and overheating that can
result when ecstasy is taken in conjunction with all-night dancing."

Although the drug is considered somewhat safe if uncut and used
properly, there are serious concerns.

It's not unusual for the drug to be mixed with other potentially
dangerous substances and people often buy it from strangers.
Inexperienced users also often take too much and fail to stay hydrated.

Toronto Police reported that some VELD concertgoers had taken pills
they found on the ground. While that news might have shocked some
people, those familiar with the culture say they are not surprised by
the deaths.

"People are pretty much just taking anything from anyone," Shannon
said. "They can often take it too far because there is very little
responsibility taking place."

Molly is totally enmeshed in the culture of EDM - which has grown
tremendously in Canada during recent years.

But it appears that MDMA use has grown right along with it. Hash tags
#Molly and #WheresMolly could be found all over social media alongside
#VELD during the long weekend with people talking about dropping
#Molly and searching for #Molly.

Molly has become as mainstream as marijuana at these festivals where
people can buy "Where's Molly" t-shirts and other gear.

But despite the relationship between the drug and EDM, people involved
in music industry say that most people don't want any part of the
Molly craze and would like to see it end.

"The people who are involved in throwing these festivals and hosting
these events want nothing to do with drugs," said Alan Smithson, a
veteran EDM DJ and founding member of Electronic Music Alliance.

"I grew-up with EDM in the 90s scene and without the drugs. It wasn't
until a few years ago that I realized drugs were such a big part of

Smithson said he wished people would focus on the beauty of the shows
- - the lights, the big stage and the pounding music - instead of news
about drug overdoses.

"Everyone who goes to an EDM show is there to have a positive time and
enjoy a positive vibe. The one thing you will never see at an EDM
festival is a fight," he said.

Some believe that despite the recent deaths, Molly culture is here to

"It's a lot bigger that us now," said 21-year-old Joseph Chang, an EDM

Chang - who was at VELD - said he doesn't take drugs to enjoy these
shows, but had several friends who were using MDMA at the music
festival. He also said these people probably wouldn't drop the drug
anywhere else, but it was considered socially acceptable at the event.

"It (use of Molly) is growing in popularity and popular culture has
latched on to this," he said pointing to the trendy gear and youthful
ideas surrounding its use.

But VELD and other EDM festival organizers can only do so much to
fight the battle of drug use at their festivals. It is clear that no
one wants to see anyone overdose and with up to 40,000 young people
entering an event, that is no small challenge.  
- ---
MAP posted-by: Jo-D