After a two-day scare, official tests show there is no THC (the psycho-active chemical in marijuana) in the water supply of Hugo, a small farming town in Colorado. How did the paranoia start in the first place? That question hasn’t been completely answered, but for now, the people are safe.
The sheriff’s office reported that after a thorough investigation, the water supply of Hugo, Colorado is free of THC and the water restrictions previously put in place have been lifted, according to Reuters. The Colorado Bureau of Investigation took the water samples on Thursday from a damaged well and from throughout the town after local field tests came up positive for the chemical. Officials also say there have been no signs of town residents involuntarily suffering the effects of THC.
So how did this odd investigation get started?
CNN reported that a local company running drug tests on employees was using the water to show what an absolute negative test result was supposed to look like. Then, the field tests came up positive.
The company reported the shocking result to the town’s public works department, which proceeded with its own field testing. The town officials found THC not only in one well, but in locations throughout the tiny town. Adding to the suspicion, they discovered one of the wells (labeled well #1) had been damaged, suggesting someone in Colorado was trying to get an entire town to succumb to the effects of THC.
That led to a full-blown investigation, which is still underway, and a 48-hour water restriction. Officials told residents not to drink, cook or bathe using the water while the Colorado Bureau of Investigation collected their samples and ran their own tests.
Colorado itself has become famous for marijuana. Colorado voters approved amendment 64, which changed the constitution to end a state-wide ban on cannabis use back in 2012 around the same time as Washington State, leading to what is now a full-fledged marijuana industry complete with a healthy tax revenue.
As previously reported by the Inquisitr, Colorado’s revenue for pot has actually exceeded expectations. In the town of Aurora, Colorado, the local officials have started using the money to help the local homeless population. Other places have just started refunding the money to tax payers.
Despite the positives of the pot legalization, some opponents continue to look for signs that the state constitutional amendment is doing more harm than good, and a THC-poisoned well would have been a good start.
In the end, it looks like the scare was simply a highly improbable set of false positives. So much for the hashtag #Hugoswater.
Still, well #1 was damaged, and the sheriff’s office says the investigation into the well is ongoing.
Peter Perrone, who owns the state-licensed cannabis testing facility Gobi Analytical in suburban Denver, said that finding cannabis in a water supply was “virtually impossible.” The problem, according to the Verge, is that THC isn’t water soluble – it just floats to the top. So contaminating an entire town’s water supply would require enormous amounts of marijuana, far too much to make a prank worth it.
To give an example, UC Davis chemistry professor David Land assumed the small town has about 265,000 liters of water, which would then require 800,000 milligrams of THC to contaminate.
“Each gram of high-end cannabis flower (about one joint) might contain the makings for 150 mg of THC, so one would need the equivalent of over 5,000 joints worth of cannabis.”
That’s one expensive trip for the Colorado town. The investigation may have been better of focusing on the drug testing itself to see if there has been a larger record of THC false positives in the past.
[Photo by Chris Hondros/Getty Images]