Researcher: Shakespeare’s pipes had been used for cannabis smoking

“The Cobb portrait of William Shakespeare (1564-1616), c1616. Private Collection. (Photo by Fine Art Images/Heritage Images/Getty Images)

Researcher: Shakespeare’s pipes had been used for cannabis smoking

Get high with The Bard?
South African researcher Francis Thackeray, a professor in the Evolutionary Studies Institute in the University of the Witwatersrand,reports that he found cannabis residue in four clay smoking pipes from William Shakespeare’s garden in the Stratford-upon-Avon area.

Thackeray … found unquestionable evidence for the smoking of coca leaves in early 17th century England, based on chemical evidence from two pipes in the Stratford-upon-Avon area. Neither of the pipes came from the garden of Shakespeare. Four of the pipes with Cannabis came from Shakespeare’s garden.

The pipes tested for chemical residues (using the non-invasive technique of gas chromatography mass spectrometry) were on loan from the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust in Stratford-upon-Avon. Several of the pipes had come from The Bard’s garden.

In his letter published in the South African Journal of Science, Thackeray also claims to have deciphered several of the bard’s literary references to marijuana. The journal states:

Thackeray (unpublished manuscript) suggests that Shakespeare preferred Cannabis as a stimulant which had mind-stimulating properties. These suggestions are based on the following literary indications. In Sonnet 76 Shakespeare writes about ‘invention in a noted weed’. This can be interpreted to mean that Shakespeare was willing to use ‘weed’ (Cannabis as a kind of tobacco) for creative writing (‘invention’). … Sonnet 76 may relate to complex wordplay relating in part to drugs (compounds and ‘weed’) …

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