Was Shakespeare a stoner? The idea that the famous author of canonical plays like Macbeth also smoked weed has bounced around the internet for a while, and now there’s new evidence to further the theory.
Scientists now have a bit of actual physical evidence to work with, in the form of clay pipes unearthed from the garden at Shakespeare’s house in Stratford-upon-Avon. South African forensic scientists first tested these pipes in 2001, and found traces of cannabis, but these findings were brusquely dismissed by Shakespeare scholars at the time.
Fourteen years later, forensic technology has advanced considerably, and scientists now say there can be no doubt about the traces of cannabis found in the pipes from Shakespeare’s garden. Whether or not Shakespeare was the one smoking them is of course up for debate, so researchers tried to further prove their point by looking for any reference to “weed” in Shakespeare’s work. As it turns out, Sonnet 76 does contain the word. The sonnet’s narrator appears to be experiencing writer’s block, and is tempted by “invention in a noted weed.” You can never tell with Shakespeare, though; not only was the word’s meaning totally different back then, but the Bard loved to use all kinds of double-entendres. Despite scientists’ fervent efforts, it’s unlikely we’ll ever know for sure whether Shakespeare was a stoner. No doubt some people will continue to speculate away.