Hugo, Colorado, THC Marijuana Well Water Contamination Controversy Put To Rest

Joshua Broom

The town of Hugo, Colorado, had an end put to its marijuana-water quandary recently. Contrary to what earlier field samples had shown, consequent laboratory testing demonstrated there was no THC -- the psychoactive chemical in cannabis -- in the Hugo's water supply, the Lincoln County Sheriff's Office stated Saturday.

Much to the City's relief, the lab tests run by the Colorado Bureau of Investigation were negative -- and investigators believe the field test results were false, the sheriff's department said.

On Saturday morning the Lincoln County Sheriff's Office stated the initial test kit results are now believed to have conclusively been false positives.

The initial positive field tests had been isolated to a single well, well No. 1, almost a mile south of Hugo's downtown area. The Lincoln County Sheriff's Office said there was evidence to suggest the well had been tampered with. However, the well break-in is still being investigated.

The Lincoln County Sheriff's department said Saturday on Twitter: "The criminal investigation into damage on well #1 structure will continue."

A water advisory warning Hugo residents to avoid drinking or using the town's water was canceled Saturday morning.

Concerning the prevalence of water systems that have been tainted with drugs before, it's noted metabolized amphetamines and other ADHD medications have spiked in the sewage systems of college campuses during finals season, as reported in an April, 2013, study.

However, to effectively contaminate tap water with THC, a culprit would first have to dissolve the chemical. Scientist Peter Perrone's skepticism concerning the Hugo water scare is based on a property known as solubility. Much like oil, THC doesn't easily dissolve in water. In fact, overcoming THC's poor solubility has presented a scientific dilemma for trained pharmaceutical researchers.

"There is zero possibility that there's anything like THC in the Hugo water," Peter Perrone, owner of Gobi Analytical, told the Denver Post. Gobi Analytical is a Colorado-based recreational marijuana testing facility.

There were no reports of illness or symptoms from people drinking the water, Captain Michael Yowell, a spokesman for the sheriff's office confirmed Saturday.

[Photo by AP Photo/Mike Groll]