For thousands of years, cannabis was used recreationally. This includes the UK where it was only made illegal in the 20th century. This means that it is not unlikely for the older generations to commonly smoke as a pastime. This suggests that some of our greatest works would have likely been under the influence of marijuana. Research and evidence through some of Shakespeare’s own works suggest that he may have also smoked on his spare time.

South African scientists have analyzed tobacco pipes dug up from over 400 years ago, and locations including Shakespeare’s garden. Out of 24 pipes found, over a third of them had cannabis remains in them, and four of those were directly from Shakespeare’s garden. Two also contained traces of cocaine, however, those were not from his property. These are not new findings; the experiments were carried out over 15 years ago, but only recently republished.

Other experts suggest that a play called “A Country Controversy” was written by hum, and a reference is made to a herb “that which maketh time itself wither with sondering.” Thackeray said upon reporting studies, “I suggest that this is a cryptic reference to cannabis, which is known to have the effect of making time ‘slow down’ – as perceived by a person smoking cannabis.”

A technique used to pick up the traces of narcotics suggest that a diversity of plants was smoked in Europe. In Shakespeare’s work, he leaves a few clues that suggest he may have been high. He has alluded to using “a noted weed” for “invention” but strays away from “compounds strange,” which may refer to other drugs, including cocaine. Although we may never know, we at least have suggestions that Shakespeare may have used a bit of cannabis when writing some of his greatest works.

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