Culture

12 Ways Important Historical Figures Used Marijuana 

Sara Kate
Updated February 18, 2020 777.6k views 12 items

Marijuana use has a long history that predates the modern-day "stoners" we've grown accustomed to. We all know about the ganja from India and the weed from Jamaica, and we've memorized a list of countries and states that have legalized recreational and medicinal marijuana use. But, there are some significant historical figures and cultures who've made important contributions to the development of common cannabis usage.

Whether they promoted growing weed, or simply took a few puffs and soared to new heights, these illustrious figures and cultures have all had an important green connection. From ancient civilizations to queens to presidents to artists to scientists, this list of historical figures and cultures who used marijuana will surprise and intrigue you.

They aren't your average skateboarding stoner bros. Some of these historic icons contributed in major ways to both world culture and history. Weed has definitely been known to get the creative juices flowing, and these prominent historical figures are no exception.

Are you surprised that some of these people smoked that wacky tobaccy? Let us know what you think about these instrumental pot smokers in the comment section below! 

William Shakespeare is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list 12 Ways Important Historical Figures Used Marijuana
Photo:  John Taylor/Wikimedia Commons/Public Domain

 

Place in History
William Shakespeare was a 16th-century English playwright who is widely considered to be one of the greatest, if not THE greatest, dramatists of all time. His plays, which include such classics as Romeo and Juliet, King Lear, and Hamlet, are still performed, adapted, and swooned over today.

 

Place in Marijuana History

Researchers discovered traces of cannabis on clay pipes found at Shakespeare's home in Stratford-upon-Avon, England. We can't be certain that those pipes belonged to Shakespeare himself, but we know they were made in the 17th century (Shakespeare passed in 1616), and that they were found on his property. Shakespeare also wrote about a "noted weed" in one of his sonnets. We can all venture to guess what he was talking about...

 

Why It's Awesome
Remember those plays listed above? Those aren't the only ones: Shakespeare also penned A Midsummer Night's Dream, Othello, and Macbeth (and many more). If smoking a bit of grass helped inspire Shakespeare to create masterpieces, then stoners everywhere have another reason to support their proclivity. 

More William Shakespeare 

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Queen Victoria is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list 12 Ways Important Historical Figures Used Marijuana
Photo: Alessandro Bassano/Wikimedia Commons/Public Domain

 

Place in History
Queen Victoria ruled the British Empire from 1837 until 1901. She is Britain's second longest-ruling monarch after Elizabeth II, and she helped guide the country through the changes that came along with industrialization and modernization.

Place in Marijuana History
Queen Victoria was an extremely powerful woman and, like all women, was visited each month by her pesky Aunt Flo. Unlike most women, however, Queen Victoria had a bevy of physicians at her beck and call, all of whom wanted to make their queen comfortable. To this end, her private physician, Sir J. Russell Reynolds, prescribed marijuana for her menstrual cramps. In an 1890 issue of The Lancet, one of the world's oldest medical journals, Reynolds wrote that marijuana is "one of the most valuable medicines we possess."

Why It's Awesome
Ever hear of the Victorian era? This is the woman who embodied that time period, during which the rules of social etiquette were quite extensive and exacting. So it's awesome to think that the woman who led a nation in wearing corsets and eschewing all mention of bodily functions was secretly self-medicating in order to cope with her PMS.

 

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James Monroe is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list 12 Ways Important Historical Figures Used Marijuana
Photo:  Samuel Morse/Wikimedia Commons/Public Domain

Place in History

James Monroe was the fifth president of the United States. He was a representative at the Continental Congress, and before becoming president, he served as minister to both France and Britain.

Place in Marijuana History

In his book, The Great Book of Hemp, Rowan Robinson wrote that Monroe "was introduced to hashish while he was serving as ambassador to France, and he continued to enjoy the smoke until he was seventy-three years old."

Why It's Awesome

Rumors abound that many of our Founding Fathers used marijuana, but most lack definitive proof. Robinson's account of Monroe smoking hashish when he went to France is the most solid source for any of these claims. If it's true, this would mean that Monroe continued smoking marijuana while he was in the White House.

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Egyptian Pharaohs
Egyptian Pharaohs is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list 12 Ways Important Historical Figures Used Marijuana
Photo: captmondo/Wikimedia Commons/CC-BY-SA-3.0

Place in History
Before there was a United States of America, a British Empire, or even a Roman one, there were the pharaohs of ancient Egypt. These rulers presided over a great civilization on the banks of the Nile River in northeastern Africa, first rising to power in 3100 BC and continuing, in varying lines and kingdoms, until 322 BC.

Place in Marijuana History
Egyptologists have confirmed that ancient Egyptians used marijuana in a variety of ways, including for religious purposes, to treat various ailments, and in everyday life to create things like textiles. Traces of cannabis have been found in the remains of numerous mummies, including that of the famous Pharaoh Ramesses II. The Ebers Papyrus, one of the oldest known medical texts, mentions a variety of cannabis uses for ailments, including glaucoma, hemorrhoids, and depression. 

Why It's Awesome
This civilization built the pyramids! These days, most people still don't fully understand how ancient Egyptians accomplished building the massive stone pyramids that still stand today. So if the ancient Egyptian pharaohs felt that using marijuana was a good idea, maybe we should listen to them.