Shakespeare and Cannabis: Did the Barb imbibe

Should we call William Shakespeare the Bard, 

A South African anthropologist named Thackeray thinks that some of Shakespeare’s poems suggest that he enjoyed marijuana.

He particularly finds Sonnet 76 suspicious. It contains the verse, “Why write I still all one, ever the same/ And keep invention in a noted weed,” as well as a reference to “compounds strange.”

Thackeray and his team analyzed centuries old pipe fragments from in and around Stratford-upon-Avon, including several from Shakespeare’s birthplace and his later home at New Place. The tests found strong evidence for use of nicotine and, more surprisingly, cocaine.

doobie or not doobie

As for the “noted weed”, the study ultimately concludes that “the results are suggestive but do not prove the presence of cannabis.”Tobacco and binge drinking were more the Tudor’s chosen poison. At one point, Elizabeth I had to personally step in by banning of a high-strength drink referred to as ‘double double beer.’

Actually, the heady term “noted weed” probably means “famous type of clothing” and “compound strange” is nothing more than an unusual word construction.

But never mind a few coy words. Consider what happens in Shakespeare’s plays:

  • Macbeth sees dagger floating in the air above him
  • Hamlet is visited by his father’s ghost
  • Othello babbles on about “goats and monkeys”
  • Pretty much everyone in Midsummer Nights Dream is on drugs or sleeping potions at some point

Dig him up to find out the truth, you might say. Or you probably wouldn’t, but Thackeray tried. What’s certain is that people are endlessly hungry for details about Shakespeare’s life. Chalk up was he a stoner along with the suggestions that he was a secret Catholicor gay, or you know, did he even write any of those plays?

What is more interesting is that Shakespeare may have had a co-author on up to a third of his plays.  What they did to get the creative juices flowing, we don’t know.

Perhaps we should all just chill. Queen Victoria took cannabis for the relief of period pains and every poet worth his or her salt in the 19th century ingested a mountain of opium and laudanum. Prithee, t’would give Keith Richards pause.