Brief Interventions for Cannabis Problems in the Postsecondary Setting: a Systematic Review

  • Lily Y. LiEmail author
  • Robert E. Mann
  • Christine M. Wickens
Original Article


Cannabis use is common among postsecondary students. With increasing numbers of jurisdictions legalizing recreational cannabis for those who reach a legal age that is likely to occur during postsecondary years, it is important to identify effective ways to ameliorate cannabis-related problems in this group. A systematic review of brief interventions (BI) for cannabis use and problems among postsecondary students was conducted. We included randomized trials of BIs involving postsecondary students between the ages of 18 and 25 years. Seven articles, representing five unique randomized trials from four electronic databases (MEDLINE, EMBASE, CINAHL, PsycINFO) were eligible for inclusion. The results provided only modest evidence for beneficial impact of these programs. Although success in reducing the frequency and quantity of cannabis use was observed over 30-day follow-up periods in some studies, no studies reported positive longer-term effects on cannabis use. Finally, several methodological concerns were noted, particularly unclear randomization and blinding processes. More research is needed to establish whether these interventions are effective in the postsecondary setting, and how they might best be implemented.


Cannabis Brief intervention Young adults Postsecondary Students Marijuana-related consequences 


Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval

Not applicable since the paper is not a research study, as it is a systematic review.

Informed Consent

Not applicable since the paper is not a research study, as it is a systematic review.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Lily Y. Li
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Robert E. Mann
    • 1
    • 2
  • Christine M. Wickens
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Dalla Lana School of Public HealthUniversity of TorontoMarkhamCanada
  2. 2.Centre for Addiction and Mental HealthTorontoCanada

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