Did Shakespeare Smoke Cannabis?

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The greatest playwright of all time may have been high when he wrote his most famous works. According to a study conducted in 2001, researchers detected traces of cannabis in pipes belonging to William Shakespeare[i]. Such a discovery doesn’t automatically prove that the Famous Bard smoked weed, but it does suggest that he had access to cannabis. Related Post The Rediscovery Of Cannabis In The West: Bengal And Cairo Cannabis References In Shakespeare The study authors say they decided to analyse Shakespeare’s pipe residues after becoming intrigued by some of his writings. Sonnet 76, for instance, talks of “invention in a noted weed”, which may refer to the use of cannabis to enhance creativity. Shakespeare mentions an aversion to “compounds strange” in the same piece, yet the researchers believe this phrase relates to cocaine. They therefore interpret these two expressions to mean that Shakespeare preferred cannabis to cocaine. That Shakespeare would reference cannabis and cocaine in his writing is unsurprising, as both arrived in the UK during his lifetime. Sir Walter Raleigh and Sir Francis Drake – both contemporaries of Shakespeare – brought coca leaves and cannabis plants back to England from their travels around the world. Cannabis Found In Pipes Belonging To Shakespeare The study authors obtained 24 pipe fragments from the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust to determine whether the great writer smoked pot. Some of these pipes originated in the garden of Shakespeare’s home in Stratford-upon-Avon, while others came from surrounding properties. Using a highly sensitive technique called gas chromatography-mass spectrometry, the researchers discovered the presence of several exciting compounds. Two pipes contained traces of cocaine, yet neither of these came from Shakespeare’s garden. However, four pipes unearthed from the home of William Shakespeare contained residues that suggest the presence of cannabis. Some of the pipe bowls and stems…

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