Thomas Jefferson was a lot of things, but was he also a weed smoker? He was a titan of industry. The hemp industry, to be exact. Beyond being the third U.S. President and drafting the Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson was an industrial cultivator of cannabis sativa for hemp. But Did Thomas Jefferson smoke weed? There are competing historical views on the question.
Thomas Jefferson Grew Fields of Cannabis
Hemp was a crucial agricultural product for the American colonists. In the eighteenth century, hemp was a widely used to manufacture all kinds of essential textiles. Sails, rope, and clothing were all commonly made from hemp.
Hemp was abundant and easy to grow. And plantation owners like Jefferson capitalized on the situation by cultivating acres of cannabis sativa.
But the kind of cannabis Jefferson’s slaves grew on his Monticello plantation in Virginia was very different from the kind we enjoy today.
Even today, the cannabis we cultivate for hemp is an entirely different strain than the cannabis we cultivate for medical or recreational use.
So if Thomas Jefferson was growing weed, the kind you smoke to get high, he probably wasn’t growing it in his industrial hemp plantations.
“Some of my finest hours…”
At first look, the evidence about Jefferson growing weed seems inconclusive. He grew hemp, sure. But hemp and marijuana are two different things, even if they do belong to the same species.
But that doesn’t mean that Jefferson didn’t grow his own private plot of weed. Or even if he didn’t grow it himself, did Thomas Jefferson smoke weed? Maybe George Washington hooked him up!
In any case, there’s one apocryphal quote, attributed to Jefferson, that has many people thinking that Jefferson did indeed enjoy getting high.
Here’s the quote:
Some of my finest hours have been spent on my back veranda, smoking hemp and observing as far as my eye can see.
There’s a lot to pick up on in this quote. But the problem is that the historical experts on Thomas Jefferson can’t find any evidence on the quote. There’s no mention of smoking hemp in any of Jefferson’s writings.
And furthermore, suggests the Thomas Jefferson Foundation, the quote appears to have a dubious providence online. The first instance dates back to 2008. So the quote may just be some internet rumor that gained traction.
But the quote itself is somewhat compelling. First, Jefferson’s Virginia home, Monticello, does have a back veranda that overlooks the grounds of the estate.
So Jefferson did have quite a view to take in. And the quote does mention smoking hemp, not marijuana, which Jefferson had a lot of on hand.
At the same time, however, it’s hard to imagine exactly what pleasure Jefferson got from smoking hemp. Considering the fact that hemp isn’t psychoactive, there seems to be nothing about smoking it that would produce one’s “finest hours.”
Final Hit: Did Thomas Jefferson Smoke Weed?
Let’s sum up the evidence. Jefferson was a hemp grower who wrote extensively about the best ways to cultivate the plant. But in all of that literature, there’s no reference to growing or smoking marijuana.
Furthermore, the one suggestive quote we have has been debunked by the people officially in charge of Thomas Jefferson’s history.
Finally, historians argue that Jefferson wasn’t a man of smoking habits in the first place. His plantation also produced tobacco, but Jefferson didn’t smoke that either. So did Thomas Jefferson smoke weed? Probably not.