Weed is often the only way to get students to participate in class
As someone who has both attended and taught at SUNY New Paltz, I can definitely say that, if classroom participation is an issue, bringing up the topic of drugs will solve that problem. No matter what the focus of the lesson may be, as soon as the discussion turns to the merits of legalization, the medical benefits of marijuana, or just the fact that weed exists and some people think it's awesome, kids who generally lounged silently in the back of the room will suddenly have a whole lot to say.
Case in point: My first semester, in a psychology course, the guy who sat next to me finally started talking about something other than Lost when we got to the chapter about how drugs affect the brain. He kind of went on a rant and I just wish he would have got to the point where he talked about how drugs affect Lost. It was 2006 and that seemed like important information.
As an instructor at the school, I noticed that many of the most passionate, thorough research essays I received were the ones arguing in favor of reefer reform. At some colleges, students get worked up about fighting for victory against the rival football team. At ours, it was all about fighting the law.
(Spoiler: the law won)
It's hard to tell when people are joking or being serious when talking about drugs I don't want to paint the wrong picture. This wasn't some open air drug market, like The Wire: College Edition (where everyone is McNulty). You could go days, even weeks, without seeing any sign of the stuff. But the moment you brought it up, it was taken seriously.
Once, while hanging out with some friends and trying to decide what to do that night, someone joked that we should drop acid and watch Hellraiser. Now, obviously he wasn't honestly suggesting this, because the person who said it cared too much about his mind to do stupid things like drop acid or watch Hellraiser, let alone do both at the same time. I think that's considered suicide by self-induced insanity.
A good portion of the people there took it seriously, though. One was bummed that he only had 'shrooms back at his dorm, and not acid, so the plan wasn't perfect. At this school, this was not the kind of behavior you could merely joke about. Someone was going to try to make those outlandish plans a reality.