5 historical figures who smoked Cannabis
Cannabis played a bigger role in our history than most historians would like to admit. Being used back in ancient Grece or in Egypte as medicine, we probably knew more about the plant back then, than we do today. The stigma surrounding the cannabis plant appeared less than a hundred years ago. Its prohibition was so radical that we don't have much information left behind to educate ourselves today.
Although when we investigate some of our beloved historical characters, we don't have to dig deep to find evidence of cannabis consumption.
John F. Kennedy (1917-1963)
John F Kennedy was the 35th president of the United States from 1961 until his death in 1963. The circumstance surrounding his death are mystical to this day and inspired hundreds of conspiracy theories.
Many other presidents, 11 to be exact, have openly said they had experimented with cannabis before. Although they were all refereeing to their younger years before their presidency.
What makes Kennedy's case special is that he was smoking Cannabis during his presidency in 1961. He was using it to relieve his chronic back pain and for recreational purposes as well.
Pablo Picasso (1881-1973)
Well known for his major influence on the 20th century art scene. He is considered as the father of cubism alongside his peer George Braque. Some would even say he is the most important figure of modern art.
Picasso was curious to experience all kinds of things from opium to morphine and cannabis ended up being a regular "habit" of his. In his younger years, he would eat hashish pills before going out for dinner with friends.
Alexandre Dumas (1802-1870)
Famous French writer, Alexandre Dumas is mostly known for writing The Three Musketeers and The Count of Monte Cristo.
During the 19th century, the French were well known for their frequent use of Cannabis. Therefore, it is not a surprise to hear rumors about famous artists smoking Cannabis, in this era.
Alexandre Dumas was very open about it and even founded a club for him and his friend to try the different strains or derivative of the plant, like Hashish. The club was called "Le Club des Hashchins" meaning the club of hashish eaters. Other famous French writers were part of this club; Eugene Delacroix, Charles Baudelaire, and Gerard de Nerval.
Dumas believed that weed helped expands the mind of writers.
Following the demonization of cannabis, the modern version of the Count of Monte Cristo was altered and we lost a big part of chapter 117. In this chapter the Count offers hashish to a guest, he says:
Judge for yourself...judge, but do not confine yourself to one trial. Like everything else, we must habituate the senses to a fresh impression, gentle or violent, sad or joyous. There is a struggle in nature against this divine substance, -- in nature which is not made for joy and clings to pain. Nature subdued must yield in the combat, the dream must succeed to reality, and then the dream reigns supreme, then the dream becomes life, and life becomes the dream. . . Taste the hashish, guest of mine -- taste the hashish
James Monroe (1758-1831)
The founding fathers were aware of the useful multi-purpose character of hemp. Although none of them has been associated with the habit of smoking cannabis for recreational use.
Monroe the 5th president of the United States, is the only one we can associate with this last "practice".
James Monroe was the ambassador of France, from 1794 to 1796. During his stay in France, he was introduced to the common usage of recreational cannabis.
Not long after his return to America, he was elected President of the United States. He was president from 1817 to 1825.
James Monroe is believed to have kept his habit of smoking recreative Cannabis until his death at the age of 73, meaning he was probably smoking during his presidency too.
William Shakespeare (1564-1616)
Well known for his writing, Shakespeare is for most of us one of the best English writers. With his 39 plays and 150 sonnets, he forever changed the face of English literature. We all remember; A midnight summer dream, Hamlet or Macbeth just to name a few.
Centuries after his death archeologist and historians were trying to demystify his famous persona and learn more about his way of life. They found clay pipe with trace of Cannabis on the property where he used to live. The pipes were dated to the early part of the 17th century.
It is very likely that at least one of these pipes was the property of Shakespeare himself.
We can also trace some allusion to cannabis in his writing.
Why write I still all one, ever the same,
And keep invention in a noted weed,
That every word doth almost tell my name,
Like as, to make our appetites more keen,
With eager compounds we our palate urge
To conclude, people from the artistic community are usually open-minded and very curious. Creative minds, in general, won't be against trying something new. Therefore, artistic groups are often associated with experimental drugs. Although, even politicians seem to be interested in these experiments. It can be surprising for us to learn that some very respected figure of our history has commonly used this type of substance. But it can help to put things in perspective and makes us ask ourselves why did we despise this plant so much in the last hundred years.