November 27, 2021

New bath salts give meth a run for its money

‘Molly’ is cheaper, provides a longer high, and is on rise

Joe McIntyre/staff artist

City police officers saw an increase in narcotics arrests from 2012-2014, that has since stayed relatively consistent. However, meth arrests have decreased, while marijuana arrests have stayed fairly level over 10 years.

Molly is making a comeback. Not the popular 1980s and 1990s drug also known as Ecstasy, but rather a new form of “bath salts” marketed under the name “Molly,” according to the Cortland County Sheriff’s Department.

It’s so cheap and so effective, police suspect it’s undercutting methamphetamine.

“I can’t talk for other places, but here in Cortland County, yes, it’s coming back,” said Sgt. Garry Williams of the Cortland County Drug Task Force.

Cortland police Lt. Rick Troyer said city police have also seen an increase in people using bath salts, a synthetic cathinone, or man-made stimulant.

“Synthetic cathinones usually take the form of a white or brown crystallike powder and are sold in small plastic or foil packages labeled ‘not for human consumption,’ reports the National Institute on Drug Abuse, a division of the National Institutes of Health. “They can be labeled as ‘bath salts,’ ‘plant food,’ ‘jewelry cleaner’ or ‘phone screen cleaner.’”

In this case, Williams said it is being sold under the term “Molly,” although he is not sure why. He has seen it sold in powder, rock and pill form and is an off-white or tannish color. It can sometimes have a pink tint.

Police said they started seeing the drug become more prevalent over the past two years.

“They are changing the chemical makeup, which can make it hard to say what kind of drug it is sometimes,” Williams said.

Back in vogue

Effects of bath salts include:
• Increased heart rate
• Higher blood pressure
• Hallucinations
• Paranoia
• Suicidal thought
• Violent behavior
• Nausea
• Vomiting
Source: New York State Health Department

Since police have seen the bath salts pop up, Williams said there has also been a decrease in meth lab discoveries and arrests.

“I think some of that is probably because of Molly,” he said. “We haven’t seen as many (meth labs) this year compared to years past, but there have been more incidents where people have been seen with crystal meth,” Williams said.

Part of the reason for the bath salts’ popularity is because of the cost and the effect it has on people. Williams noted people charged with selling meth have said they have had a hard time making sales because of the competition with Molly.

City drug arrests show decline in meth, narcotics

Meth and narcotics arrests in the city of Cortland are down, according to drug trend numbers from the city police department.

In 2017, seven people were arrested for methamphetamines, but no one has been arrested in connection with meth in the city yet this year. The largest number of meth-related arrests came five years ago in 2013, when 13 people were arrested.

However, these numbers don’t account for parts of the county outside the city. Sheriff Mark Helms said meth is still a common drug in the area, but that officers aren’t seeing as many meth labs.

County drug task force Officer Garry Williams said the decrease in meth numbers could be due to a new bath salt being marketed on the street under the name “Molly.”

Narcotic arrests in the city have also been declining since 2014. That year there were 123 people arrested, compared to 2017’s 99 people and 76 people so far this year.

Marijuana arrests in the city have stayed relatively the same over the past 10 years, ranging from 80 to 140 arrests per year.

— Shenandoah Briere

“We talked to a lot of people who are using the drug and they say the high lasts longer than meth does and it’s less expensive,” Williams said.

Williams said he’s being told by those who use the drug that it is being brought in from Syracuse.

A 50 milligram packet of bath salts sells for anywhere from $25 to $50, according to the Onondaga County Health Department. reports 250 milligrams of meth — one dose — costs $20. However, a lower dosage of bath salts can be used to get high, according to Tully Hill Chemical Dependency Treatment Center in Tully.

“Bath salts are active at doses of between 3 mg and 5 mg, with the average dose being between 5 mg and 20 mg,” the website stated. “The risk of overdose is high, however, since the packets often contain 500 mg and some suggest users use 50 mg.”