skip to main content
Washington State Institute for Public Policy
Back Button

Brief marijuana dependence counseling

Substance Use Disorders: Treatment for Adults
Benefit-cost methods last updated December 2023.  Literature review updated May 2014.
Open PDF
Brief marijuana dependence counseling is a standalone treatment that combines motivational enhancement therapy (usually two sessions) and cognitive-behavioral therapy (usually seven sessions) as well as case management. Sessions are generally individual in nature and focus on motivations and readiness for change; building cognitive, behavioral, and emotional skills; and assisting the client with access to additional support services.
For an overview of WSIPP's Benefit-Cost Model, please see this guide. The estimates shown are present value, life cycle benefits and costs. All dollars are expressed in the base year chosen for this analysis (2022). The chance the benefits exceed the costs are derived from a Monte Carlo risk analysis. The details on this, as well as the economic discount rates and other relevant parameters are described in our Technical Documentation.
Benefit-Cost Summary Statistics Per Participant
Benefits to:
Taxpayers $5,417 Benefits minus costs $16,972
Participants $11,943 Benefit to cost ratio $26.84
Others $408 Chance the program will produce
Indirect ($139) benefits greater than the costs 91%
Total benefits $17,628
Net program cost ($657)
Benefits minus cost $16,972

Meta-analysis is a statistical method to combine the results from separate studies on a program, policy, or topic in order to estimate its effect on an outcome. WSIPP systematically evaluates all credible evaluations we can locate on each topic. The outcomes measured are the types of program impacts that were measured in the research literature (for example, crime or educational attainment). Treatment N represents the total number of individuals or units in the treatment group across the included studies.

An effect size (ES) is a standard metric that summarizes the degree to which a program or policy affects a measured outcome. If the effect size is positive, the outcome increases. If the effect size is negative, the outcome decreases. See Estimating Program Effects Using Effect Sizes for additional information.

Adjusted effect sizes are used to calculate the benefits from our benefit cost model. WSIPP may adjust effect sizes based on methodological characteristics of the study. For example, we may adjust effect sizes when a study has a weak research design or when the program developer is involved in the research. The magnitude of these adjustments varies depending on the topic area.

WSIPP may also adjust the second ES measurement. Research shows the magnitude of some effect sizes decrease over time. For those effect sizes, we estimate outcome-based adjustments which we apply between the first time ES is estimated and the second time ES is estimated. We also report the unadjusted effect size to show the effect sizes before any adjustments have been made. More details about these adjustments can be found in our Technical Documentation.

Meta-Analysis of Program Effects
Outcomes measured Treatment age No. of effect sizes Treatment N Adjusted effect sizes(ES) and standard errors(SE) used in the benefit - cost analysis Unadjusted effect size (random effects model)
First time ES is estimated Second time ES is estimated
ES SE Age ES SE Age ES p-value
32 8 506 -0.364 0.138 32 -0.323 0.226 33 -0.364 0.009
1In addition to the outcomes measured in the meta-analysis table, WSIPP measures benefits and costs estimated from other outcomes associated with those reported in the evaluation literature. For example, empirical research demonstrates that high school graduation leads to reduced crime. These associated measures provide a more complete picture of the detailed costs and benefits of the program.

2“Others” includes benefits to people other than taxpayers and participants. Depending on the program, it could include reductions in crime victimization, the economic benefits from a more educated workforce, and the benefits from employer-paid health insurance.

3“Indirect benefits” includes estimates of the net changes in the value of a statistical life and net changes in the deadweight costs of taxation.
Detailed Monetary Benefit Estimates Per Participant
Affected outcome: Resulting benefits:1 Benefits accrue to:
Taxpayers Participants Others2 Indirect3 Total
Cannabis use disorder Labor market earnings associated with cannabis abuse or dependence $5,038 $11,867 $0 $0 $16,905
Health care associated with cannabis abuse or dependence $379 $76 $408 $190 $1,052
Program cost Adjustment for deadweight cost of program $0 $0 $0 ($328) ($328)
Totals $5,417 $11,943 $408 ($139) $17,628
Click here to see populations selected
Detailed Annual Cost Estimates Per Participant
Annual cost Year dollars Summary
Program costs $822 2013 Present value of net program costs (in 2022 dollars) ($657)
Comparison costs $280 2013 Cost range (+ or -) 10%
Brief marijuana dependence counseling was provided over a two- to three-month period in the included studies. The per-participant cost of treatment is the weighted average estimate for studies included in the analysis. We calculated this average estimate using Washington's Medicaid hourly reimbursement rates for individual and/or group outpatient therapy multiplied by the weighted average of total hours of outpatient individual and/or group therapy across the studies (averaging 12 total hours). Comparison group costs are computed in a similar manner based on treatment received in the studies (individual or group treatment as usual or no treatment).
The figures shown are estimates of the costs to implement programs in Washington. The comparison group costs reflect either no treatment or treatment as usual, depending on how effect sizes were calculated in the meta-analysis. The cost range reported above reflects potential variation or uncertainty in the cost estimate; more detail can be found in our Technical Documentation.
Benefits Minus Costs
Benefits by Perspective
Taxpayer Benefits by Source of Value
Benefits Minus Costs Over Time (Cumulative Discounted Dollars)
The graph above illustrates the estimated cumulative net benefits per-participant for the first fifty years beyond the initial investment in the program. We present these cash flows in discounted dollars. If the dollars are negative (bars below $0 line), the cumulative benefits do not outweigh the cost of the program up to that point in time. The program breaks even when the dollars reach $0. At this point, the total benefits to participants, taxpayers, and others, are equal to the cost of the program. If the dollars are above $0, the benefits of the program exceed the initial investment.

Citations Used in the Meta-Analysis

Budney, A J., Moore, B.A., Rocha, H.L., & Higgins, S.T. (2006). Clinical trial of abstinence-based vouchers and cognitive-behavioral therapy for cannabis dependence. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 74(2), 307-316.

Carroll, K.M., Easton, C.J., Nich, C., Hunkele, K.A., Neavins, T.M., Sinha, R., . . . Rounsaville, B.J. (2006). The use of contingency management and motivational/skills-building therapy to treat young adults with marijuana dependence. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 74(5), 955-966.

Copeland, J., Swift, W., Roffman, R., & Stephens, R. (2001). A randomized controlled trial of brief cognitive-behavioral interventions for cannabis use disorder. Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment, 21(2), 55-64.

Litt, M.D., Kadden, R.M., Kabela-Cormier, E., & Petry, N.M. (2008). Coping skills training and contingency management treatments for marijuana dependence: exploring mechanisms of behavior change. Addiction, 103(4), 638-648.

The Marijuana Treatment Project Research Group. (2004). Brief treatments for cannabis dependence: Findings from a randomized multisite trial. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 72(3), 455-466.

Stephens, R.S., Roffman, R.A., & Curtin, L. (2000). Comparison of extended versus brief treatments for marijuana use. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 68(5), 898-908.