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Shakespeare may have been a cannabis user: Report

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Harriet Taylor | CNBC

One of history's most celebrated playwrights may have had something in common with the students that, often reluctantly, study his works.

Legendary playwright William Shakespeare may have been a user of cannabis, a report in The Independent said on Sunday, suggesting 'The Bard' likely wrote at least some of his iconic works under the influence.

According to the publication, South African scientists tested the residue of several of Shakespeare's tobacco pipes—hailing from the 17th century—that were dug up from his garden. Of the 24 fragments tested, cannabis was found in eight samples, and four of them were from the writer's property, The Independent reported. The remnants were on loan from the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust.

In addition, The Independent's study also uncovered a few pipes that tested positive for cocaine, although neither came from Shakespeare's garden.

The report notes that "a diversity of plants was smoked in Europe" at the time, but well before a wave of modern legalization that gradually eroded the stigma of using marijuana, and helped to loosen social mores.

The report didn't speculate on how frequently Shakespeare may have smoked the substance. Yet it also pointed out that the playwright made reference to "weed" in one of his sonnets, number 76, underscoring how he may have been willing to use it for creative purposes.

The Independent's full report can be found on its website.