Researchers: Cannabis residue found in Shakespeare’s tobacco pipes

Historians believe new drugs came to Europe in the 17th century

(AP photo)

(MEDIA GENERAL) – Was William Shakespeare high when he wrote some of his most famous plays? We don’t know for sure, but we do have new evidence that the Bard dabbled with drugs.

New tests done by a research team in South Africa found cannabis residue inside four of Shakespeare’s tobacco pipes. According to The Independent, the pipes, which now are more than 400 years old, were analyzed using a new technique called gas chromatography mass spectrometry.

The pipes, on loan from the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, were found in Shakespeare’s garden after his death. Other pipes tested positive for coca leaves – used to make cocaine – but those did not belong to Shakespeare.

Researchers are using their new technique to learn more about drug use in earlier times. Historians believe new drugs came to Europe in the 17th century. Sir Francis Drake is believed to be the first to bring coca leaves to England after a visit to Peru, and Sir Walter Raleigh introduced England to “tobacco leaves” from Virginia.

The findings originally were published in the South African Journal of Science.

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