Survey: Westchester teen drug use higher than average

The surveys were released during today's forum on marijuana and prescription drug abuse.

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Westchester teens are still doing more drugs than other high school students nationwide, according to a new state survey.

A comparison of drug use by Westchester teens in 2008 with 2011 shows a slight drop in alcohol, marijuana and prescription pill abuse by 10th- and 12th-graders, but the numbers are still above the national average.

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Another study of eighth- and 10th-graders in Rockland County revealed that alcohol use is down, but marijuana use is up. Those numbers are both below the national average, however.

The surveys were released during today's forum on marijuana and prescription drug abuse at Westchester County Center, which was sponsored by the Westchester Coalition for Drug and Alcohol Free Youth. Jack Claypoole, administrator of the Drug Free Communities Program in the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, was the forum's featured speaker. Claypoole says prescription drug abuse is a problem because prescriptions are sometimes perceived as safer than street drugs, which is untrue.

The forum comes just as Gov. Andrew Cuomo is calling for a reduction in penalties for possession of small amounts of marijuana. While some in law enforcement are backing the governor's proposal, groups like the Westchester Coalition for Drug and Alcohol Free Youth say decriminalization sends kids the wrong message.

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