Officials warned residents not to drink it or bathe in it … great, more for us!
On Thursday, the Lincoln County Sheriff's department Tweeted that the water supply of Hugo, a small town about an hour away from Colorado Springs, had been tainted with THC.
… THC being the main psychoactive compound in weed.
Also, police reported, it looked like there were signs of forced entry at the well where the presumptive weed water was stored. Bad sign!
Could there be a malicious weed bandit on the loose? Did God empty his bong water into Hugo's wells? Does the Hugo water have a medical card?
Immediately, authorities released a warning telling residents not to drink, bathe in or cook with the tap water. They were even told not to let their pets drink it. Don't even look at that weed water, was the basic messaging.
Shorty thereafter, all hell broke loose as terrified residents panicked that they'd been ingesting psychoactive drugs and washing mushed peas off their baby's faces with it.
Restaurants shut down. People stopped bathing. Drinking water was being trucked in for panicked residents like some sort of Haitian earthquake replay. Screening stations were being set up for worried residents, and people were instructed to report any sign of sickness, cravings for Choco Tacos, or any hazy, existential thinking to the Rocky Mountain Poison and Drug Center.
Yet so far, there have been zero reports of illness or impairment in Hugo following the warning that the water supply might be high.
Concerns about the water were first raised by a Hugo company using quick “field tests” to drug test their employees for THC. The field tests function exactly like pregnancy tests; they either come out positive or negative.
The company had been getting inconsistent results with their drug testing and decided to test some of the city's tap water, expecting it to be negative. To their shock, the test came back positive, reefer madness struck, and the company called authorities.
Lincoln County officials came running, and conducted 10 more field tests, using two different types of test kits. Six came back positive. Authorities tracked the positive results to a single well — well No. 1, about a mile south of Hugo’s little baby downtown zone. When police went to check out the well, it looked like it'd been tampered with.
On impulse, the scene looked like someone really, really didn't want to get high alone. All signs pointed to some sort of malicious water tainting conspiracy.
However, it now seems like people's panic may be unwarranted.
Further testing, which is being completed today, is needed to verify that the chemical in the water is actually THC. Although preliminary tests came up positive for THC, many health experts highly doubt that it's even possible to taint a water supply with weed as THC is completely insoluble in water.
“We are checking to make sure this isn’t because of the field test kit — that it isn’t a false positive,” said Capt. Michael Yowell of Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office to the Denver Post.
“It would take more product than any of us could afford to contaminate a city water supply to the extent that people would suffer any effects,” Dr. John Fox, Lincoln County’s health officer, said in a statement.
Peter Perrone, the owner of cannabis testing facility Gobi Analytical, said cannabinoids such as THC or CBD “are in no way soluble in water.”
“There is zero possibility that there’s anything like THC in the Hugo water,” he said. “You know how oil and water separate? It’s the same with cannabinoids. They’re lipophilic, which means they’re fat-loving. They would never be soluble in water. In order for people to solubilize these cannabinoids in their drinks, for marijuana products like the Dixie Elixirs sold in dispensaries, it takes a lot of work. It takes so many steps to get a fat-soluble thing like a cannabinoid into something like a drink.”
Joseph Evans, a former EPA scientist who now serves as lab director at Denver-based marijuana testing lab Nordic Analytical, agreed.
“The one thing that bothers me about this story from a scientific perspective is that THC is so insoluble in water,” Evans explained. “I can’t imagine, I can’t even fathom the idea that THC would be in water at any type of solubility to create any kind of health hazard.”
However, that doesn't mean that authorities are being lax in their investigation.
“When you have a presumptive positive of THC in our water supply, we take that very seriously,” Yowell said.
Some Hugo humans did just the opposite of that though; Patsie Smith, a former mayor of Hugo, said she received a reverse 911-type message shortly after 3 p.m. telling residents not to drink the water because there could be THC in it. She LOL'd at the thought. Probably took a bath.
Well, even if the water supply does have THC in it, people should calm themselves. You can't overdose on weed — worst thing that'd happen is you start to like the Grateful Dead.
And if there isn't THC in that lady's lemonade? Well, that points to a problem with THC testing kits, something that could have major implications for drug testing methods in Colorado, the likes of which we've proven to be unbelievably inaccurate.
But until we get definitive proof, we'll be over in Hugo, taking a long, relaxing bath while sipping the finest tap water known to mortal man.