Reaching nontreatment-seeking cannabis users: Testing an extended marijuana check-up intervention

Robert S. Stephens, Robrina Walker, Stephanie A. Fearer, Roger A. Roffman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Some adult cannabis users report negative consequences of use but do not seek treatment. Nonjudgmental, brief interventions incorporating motivational interviewing techniques may be able to reach users who otherwise would not seek treatment and increase their motivation to change use. Previous studies have shown brief interventions with this population are efficacious in reducing use, but the absolute amount of change has not clearly translated into meaningful reductions in associated negative consequences. The current study used a marijuana check-up (MCU) model to attract nontreatment-seeking adults who used cannabis at levels that may have caused negative consequences. The study randomly assigned participants to 2-session (n = 93) and 6-session (n = 93) versions of the intervention and followed them for 12 months. The study designed the extended 6-session condition to build on the efficacy of the previously tested 2-session intervention. The study hypothesized that the opportunity to continue to consider the consequences of cannabis use would have the greatest impact on those who were in earlier stages of readiness for change. We used cognitive behavioral techniques to assist with change efforts when indicated. Results showed significant reductions in the frequency and daily duration of cannabis use at all follow-ups in both intervention conditions. The extended 6-session condition produced greater change only on a measure of the number of periods of the day in which cannabis was used. Reductions in dependence symptoms and problems related to cannabis use occurred in both conditions, but there was no effect of intervention condition. Participants who were less ready to make changes at the outset decreased use and negative consequences the least. Results suggested that some benefit of the extended session format of the check-up in reducing daily use, but the lack of a corresponding reduction in consequences suggested that the original 2-session MCU may be more cost effective.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number108269
JournalJournal of Substance Abuse Treatment
StatePublished - Jun 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • Brief treatments
  • Cannabis
  • Cannabis use disorder
  • Marijuana
  • Motivational enhancement therapy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Phychiatric Mental Health
  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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