The Impact of University Sanctions on Cannabis Use: Individual Difference Factors that Predict Change in Cannabis Use

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Over one-third of college students use cannabis, yet the majority of students experiencing cannabis-use problems are not interested in seeking treatment. Therefore, the campus judicial process following a violation of university cannabis policies may be an important point of intervention. This study examined whether cannabis use decreased following being sanctioned by the university for violation of campus drug policy. We also identified individual difference factors related to changes in post-infraction use. University students ( = 98, 73.1% White, 88.2% Male) were referred to participate in a brief motivational intervention study as a component of their sanctions following violation of campus cannabis policies. Data were collected during the intake appointment. Approximately 91% of participants reported decreased post-infraction cannabis use and 58% of the sample reported abstinence in the month prior to intake. The following variables were significantly related to both abstinence or to reducing frequent use (from at least four times per month to less frequently): using less frequently prior to their infraction, descriptive friend norms, and enhancement motives. The following variables were significantly related only to reducing frequent use: injunctive norms regarding parents and expansion motives. Students sanctioned for cannabis violations appear to decrease cannabis use post-infraction. Thus, results support campus efforts to sanction students for violation of campus cannabis use policies. Identification of individual difference variables that predict post-infraction change in cannabis use can inform treatment and prevention efforts.

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Translational issues in psychological science

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