Shakespeare and his connection to and use of the marijuana seed

The work of Shakespeare which includes both plays and sonnets are arguably some of the most inspiring in the world. There is a case for arguing that when the Bard needed inspiration, he turned to the marijuana seed.

When thinking of the people who are typically associated with the marijuana seed, the most renowned playwright worldwide may not spring to mind. Despite this, after re-reading sonnet 76 a South African research team carried out tests on a number of pipes found in the garden of Shakespeare’s Stratford-Upon-Avon cottage. The pipes included a strange mixture of cannabis, tobacco as well as cocaine. This compound could well be what Shakespeare refers to in sonnet 76 when he talks of compounds strange and taking inspiration from a noted weed.

These references however, do not necessarily refer to the by-products of the marijuana seed as they could be referring to something else, for example, the paper or poetry of others. Experts have concluded however, that it is more likely that he was referring to cannabis than the alternatives.

Sonnet 27 is also believed to refer to the poet’s drug use, as it talks of a journey that begins in his head. Some may wonder why Shakespeare seemingly coded his drug use as opposed to simply mentioning the drug. Well in his time, if he had made an explicit reference to the hallucinogenic by products of marijuana seeds then he would have been tried for witchcraft. This could have then lead to the burning of his work. Cannabis had been banned by the Catholic Church 80 years prior to Shakespeare’s birth and those who were found to be using it for healing or for simple enjoyment were tortured by the Church.

In fact what was found in one of the pipes in his garden has angered some within academic circles. The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust that allowed fragments from within the pipes to be used in the study commented that the conclusions were regrettable as they hinted that the poet was not a genius, as his work was produced under artificial influence.

Using marijuana seeds to uncover under-lying inspiration is nothing new to the world of literature, with people including Francois Rabelais, Lewis Carroll made cryptic references to cannabis in their work. Moreover, W B Yeats, Charles Baudelaire, Alexander Dumas and Victor Hugo were member of Hashish Club in Paris, where elite intellectuals would gather to smoke marijuana.

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