in the hobbit and the lord of the rings trilogy the characters indulge in something called pipe weed…
Is pipe weed cannabis? No!
Pipe weed is tobacco grown by the hobbits and bree-landers for some hundreds of years. We know they have at least four varietals of tobacco under cultivation… Old Toby, Southern Star, Longbottom Leaf, and Southlinch.
All the varietals names, minus Southlinch, pay homage to the original grower of tobacco… Tobold Hornblower, or Old Toby.
None of it is weed (cannabis).
Do the characters get high? Not really, just ‘nicotine high’. The tobacco grown by the hobbits may very well be Nicotiana rustica varietals, which would contain significantly higher levels of nicotine than modern varieties of tobacco. That might be what accounts for the characters reactions to the tobacco in both films and books, or at least that’s what I’d like to think. The reactions to smoking in The Hobbit trilogy seem gratuitous to the point of being misleading… which is exactly how we got to the point of people asking if Tolkien characters are getting high. This would all make sense if they’re having huge quantities of nicotine.
Why did Tolkien call it Pipe-Weed then? I have no clue, just a guess that it’s based on tobacco’s growth habits which are almost like a weed in the right conditions. In good conditions tobacco plants will just grow and grow and do their thing… just like a weed. So that’s maybe how you get pipe-weed.