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Shakespeare Smoked Pot

Seriously, ask your English teacher.

by Emerson Rosenthal
Aug 10 2015, 5:55pm

Shakespeare circa 1600, via. Composite by Beckett Mufson

The Bard blazed, and there's no point in bickering around the proverbial bush about it any longer: following up on a 2001 study reported on by National Geographic, a new study by the South African Journal of Science suggests that Shakespeare himself may have puffed on the "green-eyed monster" whilst cavorting around his pad on many a midsummer's night. Following the chemical analyses of pipes and pipe fragments associated with the scribe, gas chromatography mass spectrometry (GCMS) has revealed evidence that England's national poet puffed on more than tobacco—specifically, cannabis was found in four samples found in Shakespeare's garden and "definite evidence for Peruvian cocaine from coca leaves," was found in two from the nearby Stratford-upon-Avon area. 

Noted in the paper, an unpublished manuscript by Professor Francis Thackeray, the Phillip Tobias Chair in Palaeoanthropology, Evolutionary Studies Institute at University of the Witwatersrand, suggests that, "Shakespeare preferred Cannabis as a stimulant which had mind-stimulating properties," based on clippings from Shakespeare's texts, including Sonnet 76's mention of "invention in a noted weed." The research also questions whether the depiction of "the ‘Fourth Man’" holding an ear of corn and an unidentified "fritillary plant" in an engraving in John Gerard’s 1597 botany book, Herbal, was of Shakespeare or Francis Drake, the explorer who introduced the coca plant to the European continent. 

Either way, it really puts Othello's thoughts about Desdemona into perspective:

O thou weed,

Who art so lovely fair and smell’st so sweet

That the sense aches at thee, would thou hadst

ne'er been born!

— Othello, Act 4, Scene 2, lines 69 - 72

Read the full report here, and check out more on the story on VICE News.

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