Miley Cyrus put on a controversial performance of her hit “We Can’t Stop” at the 2013 Video Music Awards this past Sunday, but while she stomped around the stage in a glittery onesie with her tongue wagging, flanked by giant stuffed bears and sporting a foam finger as her prop of choice, one thing was missing: Miley’s lyric “dancing with Molly” was censored by MTV.

The reference to Molly was censored again during Kanye West’s performance of “Blood on the Leaves,” but why? Who is Molly, or actually, what is Molly?

Molly is a pure form of MDMA, or 3,4-methylenedioxy-N-methylamphetamine, according to The New York Times. It was patented in 1914 but didn’t make news until the 1970s “when psychotherapists began giving it to patients to get them to open up. It arrived at New York nightclubs in the late 1980s, and by the early ’90s it became the preferred drug at raves at Limelight and Shelter...”

While Molly may not be new per se, it is experiencing resurgence since it has been referenced by celebrities like Rihanna in her song “Diamonds” and of course Miley. Rihanna’s lyric, “As we moonshine and Molly,” refers to drinking a nearly 100 percent alcoholic drink while taking the drug, and Miley’s lyric, “Dancing with Molly,” is as simple as dancing while high. Both lyrics are relatively hidden to those who don’t understand the reference, but can be influential to the wrong ears.

Credit: Jen Lowery / Splash News Photo: Miley Cyrus Sports a Grill at the MySpace Event in July 2013

In an interview with Daily Mail back in July talking about her controversial and highly sexualized music video for “We Can’t Stop,” Miley talks about her choice to include the drug reference and how she felt it affected her younger fans from the days when she played a young and innocent Hannah Montana on the Disney channel. She said, “If you’re aged 10,” referring to how the lyric sounds to fans of different ages, “it’s ‘Miley,’ if you know what I’m talking about, then you know.”

Some claim that Molly is a safer drug than its cousin ecstasy, but safer doesn’t mean safe. Ecstasy, according to DrugFree.org, is usually taken in pill form, may be mixed with other chemicals, and is addictive. Molly is pure MDMA in crystal form and it’s not addictive, so it’s thought to be a more natural and safe alternative.

The reality, however, is that MDMA is still very dangerous, whether taken as Ecstasy or Molly, resulting in over 22,000 emergency room visits in 2011 alone, according to the Drug Abuse Warning Network. This shows a sharp increase from the 10,000+ visits in 2004.

Dr. Robert Glatter, an emergency room physician at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City, reports seeing about four patients per month recently who have taken MDMA. “Typically in the past we’d see rave kids,” Dr, Glatter tells The New York Times, “but now we’re seeing more people into their 30s and 40s experimenting with it. MDMA use has increased dramatically. It’s really a global phenomenon now.”

The Times reports that the “side effects from the drug include teeth grinding, dehydration, anxiety, insomnia, fever and loss of appetite. More dangerous ones include hyperthermia, uncontrollable seizures, high blood pressure, and depression caused by a sudden drop in serotonin levels in the days after use.” CNN noted that Molly is popular at music festivals, which amplifies such side effects as hyperthermia and dehydration to a whole new, potentially life-threatening, level.

We can’t blame Miley Cyrus or Rihanna for popularizing Molly, and we really shouldn’t even spend time thinking about it. We should instead focus our efforts of health education and talking to our kids about such topics as they come up. Starting in middle school, it’s a good idea to keep tabs on your children’s friends and any parties they go to, and if they say they’ve made a new friend named Molly, it might be a good idea to arrange a meeting in the flesh, just to be sure.

Sources: The New York Times, Daily Mail, DrugFree.org, Drug Abuse Warning Network, CNN


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Emmalie Vance is an Editorial Intern at Wetpaint Entertainment. Follow her on Google+!