Is Middle Earth’s Pipe Weed the Same Thing as Marijuana?

One can just imagine how many people were bound to be disappointed when it comes to revealing the truth about pipeweed in the Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit movies, since the truth is that the stuff is much like regular old tobacco, not great for a person in the long-term, but something that people could get legally since it’s not a mind-altering substance. There are a couple of moments in the movies that might make people think otherwise, since Saruman’s line concerning how the ‘halfling’s leaf’ has addled Gandalf’s mind is a good indication that there might have been something else in the old wizard’s pipe. But if there was, then it was his own addition to the pipeweed and nothing else. The truth of the pipeweed in Tolkien’s imaginings is nothing more devious than regular tobacco, however, which means that those that managed to make more out of it than was actually necessary are likely the same folk that tend to think that every little gesture and slip of the tongue means something extra that others aren’t seeing. 

It’s amusing sometimes what we can get from the movies and how it’s interpreted. Most of the time it’s fairly harmless since it’s fans trying to make sense of what they’re seeing, meaning that they’re wondering what’s really going on and how much they can believe in the presentation they’re being given. In this case, it’s not a bad idea to question what the hobbits are really smoking, but when one takes the time to think about it, comprehension should dawn fairly quickly since trying to imagine that a great percentage of the Shire getting stoned all the time and still being productive as they are would be kind of a tough sell. Plus, imagining a wizard being stoned is a little terrifying since that kind of power belonging to someone like Gandalf could be trouble if they couldn’t think straight. 

One obvious argument is that some folks aren’t affected in the same way by substances such as marijuana, and might have a much higher tolerance. But there’s still the need to remind folks that if the entire Shire was reeking of pot smoke and that many hobbits were stoned to the gills so often it’s fair to think that Tolkien’s story might have a great number of holes in it that people would have picked and poked at incessantly over the years. There are already enough rumors and gossip and beliefs concerning the LoTR movies and The Hobbit, and many of them are far more important to fans than this little matter. But it was one of the more amusing elements of the story to think about since many fans have been hung up on the words that Saruman spoke to Gandalf and the fact that Radagast appeared to be a bit hitting the pipe a bit too hard at one point. These are elements of the overall creation that were inspired by Tolkien’s work but weren’t necessarily indicative of the message he was sending, since pipeweed was rather prevalent in Middle Earth and was used by quite a few people. 

The fact is that pipe-smoking was quite popular back in Tolkien’s day, and is still a favored practice of many people today. But the use of any substance such as cannabis wasn’t all that popular back in the author’s time, and as such it doesn’t feel as though he was about to write this into the story, lest there be a scandal of some sort. What’s really amusing is that there are bound to be those who will still argue that the LoTR could easily include substances that would be used in the same manner as cannabis and that maybe Peter Jackson simply snuck a couple of moments in there that people weren’t fully aware of. This is something that I’ve heard in roaming around the internet and while listening to people debate the many elements of the movie, and it sounds about as ridiculous here as it did in person. But the fact that it is kind of funny to think about, and could inspire a rather interesting parody if someone had the ambition to do so, is fun to think about.  So when all is said and done, Tolkien wasn’t trying to slip something by people when he was writing about pipeweed, and Peter Jackson wasn’t trying to pull a fast one when it came to the smoking scenes in the movie, but someone managed to start the rumor that maybe, just maybe, this was what was happening. It’s a rather harmless bit of gossip that could be made into something funny if someone had the notion, and it’s good enough to use for a good laugh. But rest assured, the smoking scenes are about as clean as they can be, relatively speaking. 

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