Shakespeare and a supposed marijuana reference in Sonnet 76
Evidence discovered in pipes unearthed at the Bard’s garden in 2001 suggests that William Shakespeare may have used cannabis and cocaine. In a bid to prove it, Francis Thackeray, an anthropologist and director of the Institute for Human Evolution at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa, has made a formal request to the Church of England to exhume the playwright (if that’s really him down there.)
“There were very low concentrations of cannabis, but the signature was there,” according to Inspector Tommy van der Merwe, who tested the pipes at South Africa’s Forensic Science Laboratory. The evidence of cocaine was also very strong.
“The pipes we tested still had dirt in them which preserved the residues inside the stem and bowl,” Van der Merwe said. “The readings we got were the same as if it had tested a modern-day crack pipe.”
Camphor, myristic acid, and quinoline were among other substances detected in the pipes. “Myristic acid, which is found in nutmeg, has hallucinogenic properties, and camphor, perhaps, was used to hide the smell of tobacco or other substances,” Thackeray noted in 2001.