Small Colorado Town Reports False Positive of THC in Water Supply

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Hugo, a small town located on the Eastern Plains of Colorado, made headlines last week after county officials released a warning not to drink, cook, or bathe with local local tap water because of suspected THC contamination.

Almost immediately, scientists and cannabis experts were skeptical of the news, pointing out that cannabinoids, including THC, are highly insoluble in water. “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 Thursday.

Although marijuana is legal in Colorado, Hugo and the rest of Lincoln County have banned commercial growing, production, and retail, making THC contamination even more unlikely.

In an interview with the Denver Post, Peter Perrone, who owns Wheat Ridge cannabis testing facility Gobi Analytical, said, “There is zero possibility that there’s anything like THC in the Hugo water. 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 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.”

Initial reports indicated that one of the town’s wells showed “signs of tampering” and that multiple field tests were positive for THC. The water advisory was canceled Saturday after further testing by the Colorado Bureau of Investigation revealed no traces of THC in the town’s water supply. “We are happy to report that the water advisory is canceled immediately,” the sheriff’s office wrote. “Please resume any and all water activities.”