What's the difference between molly and ecstasy?

Originally Published: June 14, 2013
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Dear Alice,

What is the difference between molly and ecstasy? On my college campus people keep saying that they take molly. I think they are just taking ecstasy because they act the same. How could they even know what is inside the pill anyway?

— High on life and life alone

Dear High on life and life alone,

The health impact of any drug depends on how it's used, who's using it, how much is used, and under what circumstances. Ecstasy and molly, also known as MDMA, are no exception. The most obvious difference between the two is their physical form: Molly is a white powder or crystal–like substance and ecstasy is used to describe the pill or capsule form of MDMA. Users often take molly or ecstasy for the effects of MDMA, a synthetic, psychoactive drug that produces feelings of euphoria, increased energy, and empathy; however, both ecstasy and molly often contain other substances besides MDMA (anything from sugar and caffeine to methamphetamines and cocaine).

Molly is often considered the purer form of MDMA. That is, many users believe that molly contains more MDMA and less filler compared to ecstasy pills. Comparing the two forms of MDMA, however, is very difficult because there are no regulations or quality control over the actual content in these illegal substances.

Here are some additional things to consider when comparing molly and ecstasy:

  • Ecstasy usually refers to a drug that comes in pill form that has been cut with other ingredients and can range from the somewhat innocuous substances of sugar or caffeine to potentially more harmful drugs such as ketamine or methamphetamines.
  • Molly is described as a pure powder form that is often snorted through the nasal passages, making it more difficult to dose than the pill form of ecstasy.
  • Molly has developed a reputation as being of higher quality and more costly than ecstasy pills — though this is not necessarily a deserved reputation because molly can be also be cut with fillers or other potential drugs at any time in the process since it is in a powder form.
  • Ecstasy pills are not as easily tampered with after they have been made (at the beginning of the drug supply chain) because they are pressed into shapes and stamped. However, while some pills have a "good" reputation, there can be significant variations amongst pills with the same stamp based on region and time differences.

For more information on ecstasy or other drugs, check out other Q&As in the Go Ask Alice! Alcohol, Nicotine, and Other Drugs archive.

Alice