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11 Historical Figures Who Smoked Cannabis

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If you’re a cannabis lover, you have more in common with famous historical figures than you realize. As it turns out many people that we learned about in history were also fans of herb. Stick that in your pipe and smoke it.

William Shakespeare

Was the Bard a fan of the bud? Historians seem to think so. Traces of cannabis were found on some clay pipes that were found on Shakespeare’s estate in Stratford Upon Avon. The pipes were dated all the way back to the 17th century, which is around the time that he died (1616). It makes sense when you consider some of the things that he wrote about, in particular (italics) A Midsummer Night’s Dream (end italics).

Queen Victoria

England’s famous Queen Victoria was a huge fan of cannabis. She liked to use it to ease menstrual cramps, as many of us ladies do. It was actually prescribed to her by her doctor, Sir Russell Reynolds. Sir Reynolds was quoted as saying that cannabis was “one of the most valuable medicines we possess.” The Victorian era is thought to be an uptight time in history, but the truth was that recreational use of cocaine and opium was very common, and so was cannabis.

Margaret Mead

Famous anthropologist Margaret Mead not only enjoyed cannabis she was also avid supporter of legalization. Mead began using cannabis to treat an illness she contracted in the field. After successfully treating herself, she continued to toke up. Mead even testified before the US Congress in support of legalization, citing her success in treating her illness.

George Washington

This isn’t just a joke from (italics)Dazed and Confused (end italics). The Revolutionary War general and America’s first president was also a farmer of tobacco and hemp. At one point hemp was even his primary crop. Washington was also a huge fan of medicinal cannabis.

Jeanne d’Arc

Jeanne d’Arc aka Joan of Ark, famously led the French army to victory in the Hundred Years War. She was also a cannabis user, which may have been one of the reasons that she was burned at the stake, along with the whole “talking to God” thing. Cannabis users in the 15th century were often burned at the stake because it was believed that using cannabis was another form of practicing witchcraft.

Carl Sagan

Perhaps the world’s most renowned cosmologist and one of the smartest men who ever lived, Carl Sagan was also a big time stoner. This certainly helped him when it came to contemplating the origins of the universe. Sagan wrote an essay in 1969 about the benefits of cannabis and what it was like to be high under the pseudonym “Mr. X”. The author of the essay was revealed to be Sagan in 1999, three years after his death. On what it was like to be high, Sagan wrote, “The cannabis experience has greatly improved my appreciation for art, a subject which I had never much appreciated before.”

Thomas Jefferson

Another famous American Founding Father, and the third president, Jefferson was another fan of the herb. He was quoted as saying, “Hemp is of first necessity to the wealth and protection of the country.”

Pharaoh Ramses II

Cannabis use was common during the time of the ancient Egyptians. The pharaohs used cannabis to treat all kinds of ailments, including hemorrhoids. Traces of cannabis pollen were found on Ramses II’s mummified remains during an excavation.


American president John F. Kennedy was apparently a user of cannabis, which he used to treat chronic back pain. It was written in his biography that he reportedly smoked three joints on the night of July 16 1962 and then refused a fourth stating, “What if the Russians did something now?”

Christopher Columbus

Columbus was believed to have brought cannabis sativa to the Americas on one of his ships in 1492, thus introducing cannabis to the New World. Though he did not actually discover America he can at least be credited with that. It almost makes up for the horrible things he did to the Arawak natives. Almost.

William O’Shaughnessy

O’ Shaughnessy was an Irish physician who worked for the British East India Company after moving to Calcutta, India in 1833. It was while he was in India that he first learned about medicinal cannabis. After returning to England, O’Shaughnessy began using cannabis to treat various illnesses, and he conducted experiments with cannabis, first on animals, then his patients. He was so successful with his results that other doctors began to do the same. You could call him the father of modern medical cannabis.

So there you have it. There were plenty of famous historical figures who loved cannabis and made their mark on history. Some were famous scientists, some were presidents, one was the most famous writer of all time. It’s not just these people. The ancient Greeks who were known for founding democracy, among other things, were also avid cannabis users. Think about that the next time someone criticizes you for loving the herb.

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