Given the constant high prevalence of cannabis use and cannabis dependence, it is important to determine protective behaviors on the individual level, which buffer the effects of risk factors. Protective Behavioral Strategies for Marijuana (PBSM) have been identified to play an important role for harm reduction in adolescent and young adult users. In the present study, we analyzed if PBSM moderate the effects of use motives (captured by the Marijuana Motives Measure, MMM) on the severity of dependence beyond the effects of age, gender, education and cannabis use frequency. We used confirmatory factor analysis (CFA) to validate the German versions of PBSM and MMM. Data was gathered in an online survey distributed to randomly chosen households in the city of Bern in the German speaking part of Switzerland. The final sample comprised 362 past-month users. Results showed negative correlations between PBSM and cannabis use frequency and severity of dependence. The only motives being correlated with severity of dependence were coping and routine, beyond frequency of use. PBSM significantly moderated the effect only of routine motives on the severity of dependence. However, only a few cases who used PBSM extensively were affected. PBSM appear to be an important factor to reduce harm among past-month users but not among those with dependent use patterns, e.g. coping and routine users. Clinical implications are discussed. The routine factor adds significantly to the MMM and should be implemented and improved in future studies. PBSM as well as the MMM can be used in future studies in German speaking populations.