Residents in Jefferson County, Mo., say a local fireworks stand wants young people to associate their business with the party drug molly.
A billboard on Highway 30 has giant red letters that read “Molly Ahead.” Between the two lines it says “Black Market.”
The sign is an advertisement for Molly Brown’s Fireworks, which features a large inflatable woman outside.
"Molly is really just a different name for a drug that's been around for quite a while. It's another name for ecstasy or MDMA," Jared Opsal, a spokesman for the St. Louis branch of the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse, told KDSK.
"It's mostly targeted at younger people and it can get to a point where they can become dehydrated, they can have a heat stroke, they can even have a heart attack,” he said.
Residents told the news channel that the sign is appalling, tasteless and misplaced.
"When I see molly black market, to me that sounds like drugs," said Michele Van Tuyl of the Rockwood Drug Free Coalition.
Van Tuyl says her teen son loves fireworks, but the sign sends a mixed message to kids.
"You put the fireworks with the drug insinuation and it sounds like a big huge party, you know?" she said. "And that's not a party I want him to be a part of."
A company spokesperson says she had no idea that there was a drug called molly.
"We have been using ‘Molly’ for years,” Anita Kell told KDSK in an email. “Molly's Amish Furniture and Gifts is an example. Molly's Ahead has absolutely nothing to do with a drug called molly.”
“In fact, I did not even know there is such a drug,” she wrote. “Black Market is a brand of fireworks as is Caliber and The Works. The Molly's Ahead sign has been up every year. Thank you for your concern, however, rest assured it has everything to do with our brand and our company and nothing to do with drugs."
Opsal says the sign still gives the wrong impression.
"The unfortunate thing about that is many kids will see that, they'll know the relation to the drug Molly and it just builds the idea that this drug is no big deal, that it's ok to take, that it's something we can joke about," said Opsal.
“We found that roughly 4.4 percent of high school seniors reported use of ecstasy within the last year, with males being at particularly high risk for use,” Joseph J. Palamar, assistant professor of population health at New York University’s Langone Medical Center, told Futurity.
“We delineated many important sociodemographic risk factors, but the most consistent and important risk factor we found is use of other drugs,” he said.