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Was Shakespeare Literature's Original Pothead?

Anyone who’s a fan of comedy or Tool or found themselves in a side room at a party thrown by their college’s “stoner frat” has probably heard the Bill Hicks bit that reminds us, “The musicians who made all that great music that’s enhanced your lives throughout the years were real fuckin’ high on drugs.” We all know that pot plays a huge part in pop-music history, from the Beatles to Justin Timberlake, but the tradition of marijuana inspiring art may go all the way back to the English literature’s most formidable figure — William Shakespeare.

As io9 reports, a South African archaeologist named Francis Thackeray has submitted a proposal to the Church of England (who own the land where Shakespeare is buried) to exhume the bard and, if any hair or nail fragments remain, test him for cannabis use. Thackeray has been on the case for over a decade already, based on the discovery of marijuana traces found in a pipe on the site of Shakespeare’s garden. This raises the good question of whether it’s ethical to dig up the man responsible for Hamlet and King Lear just because some researcher is curious about whether he, er… partook. For our part, we find the entire line of inquiry pretty funny, but we’re also reasonably sure that Western culture can survive without knowing whether Shakespeare was the Tommy Chong of his time. [Image via Shakespeare Bong Company -- yes, such a thing exists -- on CafePress]

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