This study examined associations between the endorsement of drug use expectancies and the frequency and severity of marijuana use in a community sample of 332 women aged 18–24 years who were not explicitly seeking treatment for their marijuana use. Participants were enrolled in a larger intervention study of motivational interviewing for various health behaviors and provided self-reports of their current and past marijuana use, marijuana abuse/dependence symptoms, and marijuana use expectancies. Marijuana use expectancies were measured using the six subscales of the Marijuana Effects Expectancy Questionnaire (MEEQ). Use frequency was defined as the number of use days in the past month, severity as the total number of DSM-IV marijuana abuse or dependence symptom criteria met.
Replicating and extending prior research, expectations regarding Relaxation and Tension Reduction emerged as a robust belief in this cohort, predicting not only frequency (p < .01) but also severity (p < .01) of marijuana use in multivariate analyses. Severity of marijuana use was further predicted by expectations regarding loss of control, affective changes following marijuana use, and other aspects of emotion dysregulation (Global Negative Effects, p < .01). These findings document meaningful associations between substance-related cognitions and use behavior and suggest that marijuana users who hold certain beliefs regarding marijuana use may be particularly susceptible to clinically significant problems associated with their substance use. As such, marijuana use expectancies may represent a clinical target that could be incorporated into future interventions.