5 Historical figures you would never have guessed smoked cannabis

Published Feb 19, 2019 03:27 p.m. ET

When we think of some of the most prominent members in history, it is rare for any of us to truly understand who these people were. Detailed accounts at one time were more heavily restricted and with cannabis laws only recently favoring the use of the plant, many facts have been left out of the history books to maintain a clean image for those who have since passed. The history of marijuana predates anything that any of our readers have seen, with specific accounts of the plant being used for medicinal, cultural, and religious purposes all over the world going back thousands of years. It makes sense that some of our most prominent historical figures had also taken a liking to cannabis, it’s not something that’s widely documented or advertised. We did a little digging and came up with five important historical figures that you would never have guessed smoked pot.  

1. Queen Victoria
Queen Victoria ruled from June 20, 1837, until she died on January 2 in, 1901, including all the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. There have been rumors spreading for ages surrounding the Queen’s history of using the drug, but there are only a few that seem to hold any merit. The first and most widely known is that she was prescribed marijuana by her doctor for pain. One month after cannabis was first brought to England in 1940 her doctor Sir Russell Reynolds prescribed it to Queen Victoria to treat migraines, menstrual cramps, and depression. The second can be found in her letters and personal diary that revealed a substantial history of using cannabis for both pain and pleasure.

2. Hua Tuo Yuanhua
Hua Tuo was a physician who lived in China during the Eastern Han Dynasty. There are two historical texts that refer to Yuanhua as the very first person to use marijuana in combination with wine to sedate his patients. The medicine was essentially wine with cannabis that had been boiled to activate the THC. It is unclear just how much Hua Tuo understood about the components in weed. However, the accounts of his surgical expertise that were based around this sedating method can be found in the Records of the Three Kingdoms and the Book of the Later Han, and his practice has gone down in history for being one of the most influential texts that evolved into the cannabis research we see today.

3. John F Kennedy
John was the 35th president of the United States and held that position from January 1961 until he was assassinated in late November of 1963 and was the very first president to be publicly outed for smoking weed in the White House. The president suffered from many different illnesses including prostatitis, osteoporosis, Addison’s Disease, and colitis making it difficult for him to perform basic tasks like getting dressed. According to a book that was written by one of Kennedy’s mistresses called John F Kennedy: The Biography he used marijuana in addition to twelve prescription medications to make it through each day. She also alleged that he smoked three joints on July 16 in 1962 that she partook in at the White House while joking about the narcotics conference that was set to take place where they sat in two months which was to include cannabis.


4. Ottoman Sultan Abdulaziz I
Ottoman was a powerful and influential leader. He was the thirty second Sultan who ruled the Ottoman Empire from 1861-1876. In his final year in power, he attended America’s very first World Fair by setting up booths and handing out materials while giving lessons on the rich culture and history of the Ottoman Turks. One of the tokens he brought to gift to his most interested participants was marijuana, and he even held demonstrations on how to smoke it using a hookah as was most commonly used by his people at the time.

5. William Shakespeare
William Shakespeare was and still is world famous for his contributions to several fields including poetry, acting, and writing. His work is now regarded as some of the most influential in history earning him the title of England’s National Poet. Some of his most notable works are Hamlet, Othello, Macbeth, and The Two Noble Kinsmen. After a bit of digging it seems this genius may have used cannabis to facilitate his creativity and relax. A group of researchers published a study that was featured in the South African Journal of Science, and in it was their findings after testing several wooden pipes from Shakespeare's Garden. Using some of the most advanced chromatography methods they were able to detect marijuana on four of the excavated pipes. Cocaine was also found on two of them leading researchers to believe that he had a liking for recreational drugs that were even more profound than just cannabis.



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