Reports coming out of Colorado are blazing their way across the Internet, claiming that the water supply in the small town of Hugo has tested positive for THC, the psychoactive cannabinoid found in marijuana. This has promoted authorities in the town to advise the residents not to drink or bathe in the “contaminated” water.
There is just one problem: THC in not “water soluble,” which means that is cannot be dissolved in water. That’s why if you dump some weed in a glass of water and drink it you will not get high, no matter how good the weed is. It’s why marijuana edibles are more difficult to make; THC is “fat soluble,” which means it can be absorbed into fat, which is why several steps are needed to bind the cannabinoids to fat in oil or butter before adding the mix to whatever edible recipe you are making.
“There is zero possibility that there’s anything like THC in the Hugo water,” said Peter Perrone, who owns the cannabis testing facility Gobi Analytical.
“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 marijuana testing lab Nordic Analytical, concurred with Perrone. “The one thing that bothers me about this story from a scientific perspective is that THC is so insoluble in water,” Evans said. “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.”
So why all the hubbub? In short, some field tests conducted on the water supply got positive results for THC and some got negative results. Since authorities on the whole know very little about cannabis and the way it works, the positive results triggered a panic, lest anyone in charge be accused of not caring about the well-being of the citizens of Hugo.
But the citizens of Hugo are going to be fine, at least when it comes to the possibility of their water being laced with THC. They might want to be somewhat worried about the gullibility of those who serve in their town government, however.