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A Day in the Life: A Daily Diary Examination of Marijuana Motives and Protective Behavioral Strategies Among College Student Marijuana Users

While marijuana use is prevalent among college students, it is important to understand how users differ in their use patterns and risks for negative consequences. The current study uses a diary design that includes 12 days surrounding April 20th. This is done to look at marijuana use motives and protective behavioral strategies (PBS) as predictors of marijuana use involvement and negative consequences.

The study included 43 students from three universities who reported using marijuana in the past 30 days. Marijuana-use motives measured included coping, enhancement, social, conformity, expansion. Marijuana PBS was measured using 12 items from the Protective Behavioral Strategies for Marijuana scale. These items included timing, limiting frequency, limiting quantity, and avoiding serious harms of use. Marijuana use measured number of sessions, number of grams of marijuana consumed, and subjective high. Finally, consequences were measured using 8 items from the 50-item Marijuana Consequences Questionnaire. This included social interpersonal consequences, impaired control, self-perception, self-care, blackout use, physical dependence, and risk behaviors.

Results showed that coping, conformity, enhancement, and social motives were associated with the most negative consequences while enhancement and conformity motives were associated with higher number of uses. Another finding was that social motives were higher on April 20th along with the weekend. Overall, marijuana PBS use was found to correlate to fewer use sessions and lower subjective high. These results show that interventions may be benefited by targeting specific motives of use along with promoting PBS use among college students.

Take Away: The current study includes a diary design study to look at marijuana use motives and protective behavioral strategies (PBS) among college students.  This study included 43 students who reported marijuana use in the past 30 days. Marijuana-use motives, marijuana PBS, marijuana use, and consequences were measured. Results showed coping, conformity, enhancement, and social motives were associated with the most negative consequences while enhancement and conformity motives were associated with higher number of uses. Overall, marijuana PBS use was found to correlate to fewer use sessions and lower subjective high. These results show that interventions may be benefited by targeting specific motives of use along with promoting PBS among college students.


Pearson, M. R., Bravo, A. J., Conner, B. T., & Parnes, J. E. (2019). A Day in the Life: A Daily Diary Examination of Marijuana Motives and Protective Behavioral Strategies Among College Student Marijuana Users. Journal of Drug Issues, 50(2), 142-156. doi:10.1177/0022042619890837

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