United States – Hugo, a town in Colorado, is advising its citizens to avoid using the city’s water since it was found out it contained THC traces.
Hugo is a tiny town of about 750 people, located roughly 90 miles east of Colorado Springs and 15 miles southeast of Limon.
On Thursday, authorities found that the town’s water was contaminated with THC, which is the psychoactive compound in marijuana.
Hugo Public Works detected the compound, and then the county sheriff’s office released a statement asking citizens to avoid “drinking, cooking and bathing” in the water, and even to avoid giving it to their pets, for at least the next 48 hours.
At the moment, not a single citizen has shown any symptom. However, screening stations are being set up for worried residents.
The contamination is probably marijuana related
Although the investigations concerning the source of the contamination are still going, health officials believe it is THC marijuana related.
Toxicologists are studying the health effect the water consumption could have. According to Mark Salley, a spokesman for the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment “the impacts would likely vary based on the amount of water consumed and the concentration”.
However, some believe the water is safe. Dr. John Fox, Lincoln County’s health officer, stated that it would take massive quantities of THC to contaminate the water supply in a way that would lead citizens to suffer any effects. Of course, such amount of product is more “than any of us could afford”, said Fox.
Peter Perrone, owner of the Wheat Ridge cannabis testing facility Gobi Analytical, backed up Fox’s comments in a way, by stating that THC is not water soluble. “There is zero possibility that there’s anything like THC in the Hugo water,” he claimed.
According to Perrone, cannabinoids are “lipophilic”, which leads the THC to behave in the same way oils do. This means THC and water separate just as oil and water do, preventing the cannabinoid of dissolving in the town’s water.
Joseph Evans, lab director at Denver-based marijuana testing lab Nordic Analytical, gave his opinion, stating that the only thing that bothers him “about this story from a scientific perspective is that THC is so insoluble in water.
“I can’t imagine, I can’t even fathom the idea that THC would be in water at any solubility to create any kind of health hazard,” he added.
However, at the moment, the contaminated well has been shut down, and the health department has stated that “fresh water is coming” as soon as possible.
The Environmental Protection Agency said that their support had not been requested yet, nor that the incident had been reported to the National Response Center.
Tom Lee, the town’s mayor, refused to give information about how THC might have gotten into the water; he did acknowledge that authorities were working on it.
With the passing of Amendment 64 on November 6, 2012, citizens of age (21 or older) can legally possess one ounce (28 grams) of marijuana or THC in Colorado.
However, there are no commercial marijuana operations in Lincoln County which according to the state Health Department has only 62 medical marijuana patients.
Source: Denver Post