17th Oct, 2017

Did Shakespeare smoke cannabis?

Stratford Editorial 11th Aug, 2015 Updated: 28th Oct, 2016

SHAKESPEARE may have written some of his most famous works while high on cannabis.

The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust lent fragments of 17th century pipes found in the Bard’s garden and his neighbour’s properties to scientists in South Africa.

And of the 24 fragments loaned, eight were found to contain cannabis – four of which were from Shakespeare’s garden.

Two other pipes were found to contain cocaine, although researchers believe the writer did not partake in the potent narcotic.

Scientist Francis Thackeray used a technique called gas chromatography mass spectrometry to test the pipes – a procedure separating chemicals to find the make-up of a residue.

He said: “Shakespeare may have been aware of the delerious effects of cocaine as a strange compound. The research suggests Shakespeare preferred cannabis as a stimulant which had mind-stimulating properties.”

The researcher believes the Bard referred to drugs in Sonnet 76, which mentions ‘invention in a noted weed’, which Mr Thackeray believes means Shakespeare was willing to use weed for creative writing.

In the same sonnet he mentions ‘compounds strange’ – which the scientist says refers to cocaine.

Mr Thackeray said: “One can well imagine the scenario in which Shakespeare performed his plays in the court of Queen Elizabeth in the company of Francis Drake, Walter Raleigh and others who smoked clay pipes filled with ‘tobacco’. However, there were several kinds of ‘tobacco’ in those days.”

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