A new scientific study shows that Shakespeare might have put down the quill to spark a joint as he penned his classic plays—at least according to the study's author, Professor Frances Thackery from the University of Witwatersrand in South Africa.
Thackery's study, published in the July/August 2015 edition of the South African Journal of Science, takes a close look at 17th-century pipe fragments excavated from Shakespeare's garden and around Stratford-Upon-Avon. The fragments, which contain traces of nicotine, cannabis, and cocaine, were originally reported on in 2001, according to CNN. Four of the pipes in Billy's garden tested positive for weed.
Thackery's study explains that the nicotine found in the pipe fragments may have been brought by explorer Sir Walter Raleigh, who was reported to have introduced the plant to England. Similarly, the cocaine can be attributed to explorer Sir Francis Drake, who may have brought back the leaves after his 1597 visit to Peru.
Taking the pipe findings and running with them, Thackery dove into Shakespeare's prose, searching for proof that the bard liked to blaze. He became particularly enamored with Shakespeare's Sonnet 76, which mentions an "invention in a noted weed," which Thackery assumes to be pot, and a "compound strange," which he thinks is cocaine.
As air-tight as that argument may seem, a Shakespeare scholar told Huffington Post last weekend that Professor Thackery's reading of the sonnet was a "really lame interpretation" and that there's not really any evidence that people called marijuana "weed" back in Shakespeare's times. Sorry to kill your buzz, Thackery.
At the time of publishing, the professor has not yet attempted to scrape Shakespeare's bowls for a Renaissance-era resin hit, but we wouldn't put it past him.