William Shakespeare was a Marijuana Smoker.

Heart Marijuana
Heart Marijuana

South African scientists have discovered that 400-year-old tobacco pipes excavated from the garden of William Shakespeare contained cannabis, suggesting the playwright might have written some of his famous works while high.

Of the 24 fragments of early 17th century clay pipes loaned from the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust to the University of the Witwatersrand, cannabis was found in eight samples, four of which came from Shakespeare’s property, the Independent reports.

There was also evidence of cocaine in two pipes, but neither of them hailed from the playwright’s garden.

Shakespeare’s sonnets suggest he was familiar with the effects of both drugs.

In Sonnet 76, he writes about “invention in a noted weed”, which could be interpreted to mean that Shakespeare was using “weed” or marijuana.

Francis Thackeray, of the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, says that both cannabis and coca were considered variants of ‘tobacco’ during the Elizabethan period.

Cannabis had been known in Europe for centuries by Shakespeare’s time, while coca is native to South America and came to the Old World thanks to explorers such as Francis Drake.

Writing in the South African Journal of Science, Professor Thackeray describes how he obtained the pipe fragments from the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust and submitted them to scientific analysis.

He used a technique called gas chromatography mass spectrometry, which involves separating out different chemicals to discern the make-up of a particular residue.

Pointing to the popularity of mind-altering drugs, Professor Thackeray writes: ‘One can well imagine the scenario in which Shakespeare performed his plays in the court of Queen Elizabeth, in the company of Drake, Raleigh and others who smoked clay pipes filled with “tobacco”.’

Pointing to the popularity of mind-altering drugs, Professor Thackeray writes: ‘One can well imagine the scenario in which Shakespeare performed his plays in the court of Queen Elizabeth, in the company of Drake, Raleigh and others who smoked clay pipes filled with “tobacco”.’

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