Identifying cannabis use motives and their association with problematic cannabis use

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University of New Brunswick


Cannabis is amongst the most frequently used substances worldwide (United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, 2015). Motivations for use are predictive of the quantity and frequency of cannabis consumed, as well as the severity of cannabis-related consequences (Lee, Neighbors, & Woods, 2007; Lee, Neighbors, Hendershot, & Grossbard, 2009). Research on cannabis-related motivations has been limited by being modeled from the alcohol literature and by the samples used (e.g., university population). The current study aimed to comprehensively assess cannabis motives in a more diverse group of cannabis users than previous studies. Past-year cannabis users from the general population (n=262) and a university student community (n=103) completed an online survey assessing cannabis use motivations, use patterns, and misuse risk factors (e.g., age, gender, personality). Five distinct motivations (i.e., positive reinforcement, coping with negative affect, health enhancement, social cohesion, and secondary substance) emerged, which were uniquely associated with frequency of cannabis use and use-related problems. Understanding motives behind cannabis use may inform the development of more effective prevention and intervention programs for cannabis misusers (Benschop et al., 2015). Keywords: cannabis, motivations, frequency of use, use-related problems