Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Psychology



First Advisor

Kathryn Quina


Research is needed to better understand marijuana use and effective treatment among the incarcerated adolescent population. Preliminary pilot work in detention indicates that a substantial number (83%) of adolescents are reporting daily marijuana use (Stein et al., 2006). This research attempted to gain a better understanding of the reasons for marijuana use among incarcerated adolescents. The design and intent of this study was to extend basic knowledge of the reasons for marijuana use, establish factors related to marijuana use, and examine if relaxation therapy reduces marijuana use in those who use marijuana as a way to regulate emotions.

Participants were 189 incarcerated adolescents age 14-19 (M= 17 years). Participants adjudicated between January 2001 and September 2005 were included in the study if they reported marijuana use prior to their incarceration. Of the 189 participants, 86% were boys, 32.8% White, 29.1% Hispanic /Latino, 28% African American, and 10.1 % other.

Analyses included a principal components analysis (PCA) to investigate variables that correlate to explain reasons for marijuana use. The PCA did not reveal separate factors for marijuana use. In order to continue testing the hypotheses for the study, items from the Brief Situational Confidence Questionnaire-Marijuana (BSCQ-M) were calculated to form a negative affect and a positive affect variable. Although most of the analyses did not confirm the hypotheses, a few interesting and significant findings were revealed. Results indicated that incarcerated adolescents who were in the negative affect group report higher averages of weekly marijuana use and a higher number of days using marijuana at 3-month follow-up than did those who were not in the negative affect group. While those in the positive affect group also reported significant days of use in the past 3-months, there was no difference in the average number of "joints" smoked per week in the past 3 months. Additionally, gender differences were found with females (vs. males) reporting a more significant family history of drug use and were more likely to report that they perceive that marijuana has bad effects on a person.

Further research is needed to examine the reasons for marijuana use among incarcerated adolescents to inform and streamline treatment needs. In addition ethnicity and gender should be included in further investigations into the motivations, quantity, and frequency of marijuana use. These findings can assist in the development and implementation of future marijuana treatment efforts with incarcerated adolescents.



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