Residents of Hugo, Colorado have been asked to not drink tap water after one of the town’s wells was contaminated with THC — the chemical that causes the physiological effects of marijuana.
Lincoln County Public Health Director Susan Kelly said no illnesses have been reported in Hugo — a town of about 730 people — but THC was detected in field tests on the water.
Sheriff’s captain Michael Yowell said investigators found signs that one of Hugo’s five wells had been tampered with, but they hadn’t determined whether someone deliberately tainted the water.
It’s unclear exactly how much THC is in the water supply; however, officials said more definitive lab tests are underway.
In the meantime, residents are being encouraged to drink bottled water and avoid using tap water in their cooking. The Colorado Department of Health said the water is considered safe for bathing, showering, dish washing and even teeth brushing.
The town of Hugo prohibits marijuana cultivation, product manufacturing, testing facilities and retail marijuana stores, although those activities are legal elsewhere in the state.
But not everyone is convinced that the pot chemical could be to blame for the drinking ban.
Peter Perrone, owner of a marijuana testing facility in the Denver area, said he doubts THC could be in the water because the chemical isn’t water-soluble, he told The Denver Post.
Investigators noted a company that administers employee drug tests was the first to detect THC in Hugo’s water. A tester sampled tap water, assuming it would be negative, but it was positive.
Health effects from drinking pot-tainted water would depend on several factors, including how much THC was in the water, the amount consumed and how quickly it was consumed.
However, drinking water tainted with the chemical would be similar to eating pot-infused food, which means the effect would depend entirely on how much was consumed and the strength of the tainted water. In fact, the Colorado Department of Public Health’s list of symptoms reads similar to what you might expect to see come up in a Google search for “What happens when you eat weed brownies?”
According to a press release, symptoms may include:
- Impaired coordination and thinking that may affect the ability to drive
- Increased anxiety and/or increased heart rate
- Psychotic symptoms such as hallucinations, paranoia, or delusional beliefs
- Temporary impairments in learning ability and short-term memory
– With files from The Associated Press