Almost stereotypical of the Rastaman is the use of herb. This needs to be set straight: not all Rastas smoke marijuana. Reggae great Lucky Dube, for example, says that if God wanted us to smoke, he would have created us with chimneys. The majority of Rastas, however, prefer to smoke ganja. Ganja is seen not as a 'drug' or something to get 'high', but as a spiritual aid. It gives Rastas insight and helps meditation. Marijuana is sometimes referred to as the "Holy Herb" and Rasta legend states that it grew on King Solomon's tomb, perhaps the wisest person from the Bible. Norman Hugh Redington protests the Rasta stereotype in his "Sketch of Rastafarian History" that "pious Rastas do not smoke marijuana recreationally" but rather smoke, as Macka B sings, "fe good meditation."
There is a strong connection between the Sadhus, or Hindu holy men, and the Rasta use of ganja. Similar to these saints, Rastas often smoke communally from a chalice (as above), which is considered proper and even holy among the more conservative Rastas. This East-Indian influence on the West Indies derives from the influx of cheap Indian labor following the abolition of slavery in the English colonies.
Rastas are often targeted by the police and other law enforcement officers as potential users, and it is even reported that police use dreadlocks as probable cause to search someone. Rastas are often the victims of Babylon's attempt to keep them from the "Healing of the nation." Marijuana is viewed as a plant capable of uniting a whole country. It gets rid of the useless garbage that Babylon tries to teach us and allows us to focus on Jah. Babylon is denying us rights proclaimed to us in the Bible --
He causeth the grass to grow for the cattle, and herb for the service of man: that he may bring forth food out of the earth; (Psalm 104:14)
Rastas are by no means accepting of drugs, however. A righteous Rasta will abstain from heroin, LSD, cocaine, etc. Many even abstain from tobacco and alcohol. The main reasoning behind this preference is that those drugs are man-made or adapted with chemicals. Herb, for the most part, is a natural substance that Jah has created for use, as described in the Bible --
And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat." (Genesis 1:29)
Some argue that tobacco is also a natural substance, but it is clear that any commercial, pre-packaged cigarettes that one can find in most places will contain numerous harmful chemicals that the tobacco certainly didn't grow naturally. Some like to roll spliffs in tobacco leaves that have been freshly picked, or even roll spliffs with fresh tobacco mixed in it, and that is certainly permissible. The tobacco and alcohol issue is also part of what many Rastas live by and call Ital.