William Shakespeare (1564-1616) is still one of the most influential writers in the world’s history. Lots of scholars still study his work so it is not surprising if scientists do bizarre studies on him.
A team of South African researchers made forensic analysis on 400 year old tobacco pipes found in the village of Stratford-upon-Avon. Some of them were in Shakespeare’s garden. Of the 24 fragments of pipe, eight contained traces of cannabis, four of which were from Shakespeare’s property. Two also contained traces of cocaine, but these didn’t belong to his house.
Professor Francis Thackeray and his team from the University of Witwatersrand used a sophisticated technique: the gas chromatography mass spectrometry. It can detect traces after a long period of time, even of four/five centuries.
More scholars during the centuries suspected that Shakespeare was a cannabis lover. He alludes to psychoactive substances in more works.
For example in his Sonnet 76 that talks of “invention in a noted weed” it seems that the writer may have used Marijuana to help with creative writing. He also talks about “compounds strange” and it looks like an allusion to other drugs.
In the play “A Country Controversy” always of the Bard, there’s a reference to an herb “that which maketh time itself wither with sondering.” About this passage in the play, Thackeray thinks this is a cryptic reference to cannabis. As we know, it gives the effect of making time slow down.
In the Sonnet 118 there’s another verse that seems to talk about cannabis: “Like as, to make our appetites more keen, with eager compounds we our palate urge.” It looks like he was talking about munchies that follow after smoking weed!
Cannabis has been in use for centuries and it was legal in the UK until the early 20th century. It’s not too surprising that people and, most of all, a creative writer used it for his work.
Thackeray’s and his team’s work on the pipes have received mostly a cold response from the scientific community. Also there is no evidence that the pipes belonged to Shakespeare. Crossing these evidences with some of his writings, it’s not difficult to believe that he loved to smoke weed
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