To my generation drugs were seen as a way to rebel and defy authority, something that was "mind-expanding", or just plain fun. It also created a kind of sub-culture and it was very cool to be a part of that. It had its own music, literature and styles of dress and speech.
It also pretended to have its own moral and intellectual standards, but that was pretty superficial. For all the talk about "free love", women were still treated as sex objects. People who didn't know whether Vietnam was in Asia or Africa were full of opinions about its history and current affairs. There was a lot of talk about socialism, but so often among those who had never read Marx.
What really interests me is that in the USA and also in Britain (but not in Germany, for obvious reasons), every generation seems to sigh over "the good old days" and how good things used to be.