According to Talladega County Drug and Violent Crime Task Force Commander Jason Murray, MDMA, or ecstasy, was a popular club drug in the 1990s that is mounting a major comeback recently.
“It’s in a crystalline form now that they are calling Molly,” Murray said. “And it’s very dangerous, because it’s much purer than anything that was around in the 1990s. People are using the same amount that they did before, but because it’s so much purer, you’re seeing a lot more overdoses this time around.”
Historically, this is not uncommon. It was an exceptionally pure dose of heroin that killed singer Janis Joplin in 1970.
And even more disturbing, heroin is also making a comeback.
“The Birmingham (Drug Enforcement Administration) has set up a special task force to deal with the heroin problem. They had 115 overdoses there last year, including 12 or 15 all in one month,” Murray said.
He speculated that the heroin coming into the United States today is being brought in directly over the Mexican border instead of being smuggled in through major cities like New York or Miami. “It used to have to filter into the rest of the country through a major city, but now they can just drive it in,” he said.
The task force has made some arrests for heroin possession locally, Murray said. “And I know Molly is here, but what we’ve gotten so far is still being analyzed at the state forensics lab. But I’m pretty sure.”
Other drugs never really went away. Powder and crack cocaine, marijuana and pharmaceuticals are “still hot,” Murray said. “Methamphetamine is a newer drug here in Alabama, but it’s been popping up in western states like California, New Mexico and Arizona for a long time before that. Cocaine was always around and is still around, but it’s kind of been overshadowed by meth in recent years.”
Murray occasionally runs across cases involving hallucinogens such as LSD or (psilocybin) mushrooms, mostly with college students, but said these cases are rare. Synthetics that can mimic the effects of LSD but are not the real thing are actually more of a problem.
“And not a week goes by that we don’t run across ‘bath salts’ somewhere. We’re the only county that I know of that’s actually enforcing that right now. We arrest when we find it on probable cause, while other agencies are waiting on lab reports. We were actually able to get that stuff cleaned out of the convenience stores pretty quickly after they changed the law. But people are buying it online or in other states, so it’s still around.”
St. Clair County Sheriff Terry Surles said the way he sees the problem is “the more of something that is available, the cheaper it’s going to be.”
He was not aware of a Molly case in St. Clair County yet, but said he expects to soon.
“We have seen some ecstasy here, but the meth problem is just ridiculous. I don’t take marijuana lightly, but meth and heroin are really the big problems.”
Abuse of prescription medications is also still a problem in St. Clair County,” Surles said. “People are out there doctor shopping. And now younger kids are getting into cough syrup. They end up addicted, and they’ve got to get more. They’ll spend everything they have.”
The far larger problem of the drug epidemic is that almost every other crime can be traced back to have some drug related aspect.
“We’re going to keep working on it,” Surles said.