Navy Enlistment Policy for Prior Drug Usage

Navy Drug Waivers

There is not a day that goes by that I do not receive an email or comment that goes something like these few examples, “How many times could I have smoked marijuana and still be eligible for an intel job?”, “My charges say I was arrested for possession with intent, but it was my friends stuff he had. Do I need a waiver?”, and just today, “Any information on whether a single instance of hallucinogenic mushroom use is waiverable?” As those of you know based on the email responses, I will not describe to you how many times you could have used a drug and still be within waiverable limits. I expect you to be honest with the Navy, and I do not want to influence an answer by showing limits.

The Department of the Navy’s policy on pre-service drug use/abuse;

Department of the Navy policy is that drug and alcohol dependent applicants, current drug and alcohol abusers, and those individuals whose pre-service abuse of drugs and/or alcohol indicates a proclivity to continue abuse in the service, are not permitted to enter the naval service. The Navy recognizes that some people have clear potential to become creditable performers despite past exposure to drug and/or alcohol abuse. Recruiting procedures must include positive measures to identify and screen out drug and/or alcohol abusers at the point of application for enlistment.

The Navy’s policy is pretty clear. If you desire to continue use or abuse controlled substances, the Navy does not want you, period. But if you have stopped the use, completely stopped, and have no desire or intent to illegally use or abuse controlled substances again, you may be eligible for a waiver that, if granted, would allow you to serve in the United States Navy.

The use of controlled substances such as, narcotics, depressants, psychedelic, stimulant, synthetic/designer, hallucinogenic (LSD is two year) is a minimum of a one year waiting period after use before a waiver could be considered. If you ever tested positive for any illegal drugs or alcohol at the Military Entrance Processing Station (MEPS), there are no waivers, no do overs, you’re done. So, where you can process after using marijuana, but understand it had better have been your last time and you had better not have any residual THC still flowing through your veins when you go to MEPS. Consider yourself notified.

If you have ever been a distributor, trafficker, supplier, seller, for profit or not, of illegal drugs, and even if you are arrested for possession with the just the intent to distribute of illegal drugs or any controlled substance that you are not legally certified to distribute, you are banned from joining the military forever. There are no waivers, no do overs, you’re done.

If you have been convicted or adversely adjudicated for two or more drug or alcohol offenses, you require a drug or alcohol waiver. Keep in mind that an alcohol and/or drug offense waiver is in addition to any moral/civil waiver that you may also need.

The Department of the Navy’s policy of in-service drug use/abuse is ZERO TOLERANCE. One time and you are done; no do overs, no waivers, done, and in most cases, say goodbye to any benefits you may have earned – even the GI-Bill and VA mortgage benefits.

Policy UPDATE as of November 5, 2013:

“Program eligibility has been revised for AIRR, EOD, ND, SO and SB ratings. BUPERS-32 has authorized Navy Recruiting Command (N32) to approve program eligibility determinations for drug abuse offenses involving marijuana only. Approvals may be made on a case-by-case basis for applicants with no more than one misdemeanor drug abuse offense (e.g. possession of marijuana or paraphernalia). Drug abuse offenses involving drugs other than marijuana will not be considered. Use of marijuana while in DEP will result in loss of AIRR, EOD, ND, SO or SB rating guarantee for those previously approved with a drug abuse offense. Policies involving use of other drugs remain unchanged.”

“For the Nuclear Field Program, any marijuana use while in DEP is disqualifying. No waivers are authorized.”

This is about as detailed as I will get on the subject of drug waivers.

Read Comments (1,343)

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1,343 Responses to “Navy Drug Waivers”

  1. Beau says:

    Also how does your Educational level impact enlistment possibility for a waiver? High School Diploma vs College Degree?

  2. Jonathan says:


    Is there any way I could still be able to join the navy with a misdemeanor charge of distribute marijuana. I was charged back in 2011.

  3. Jonathan says:

    Can I still be able to join the navy with a misdemeanor charge of distribute? I was charge back in 2011.

  4. NCCM(Ret) says:


    It must be listed in your application, and you will provide a handwritten statement that defines the case. The court records and your handwritten statement will be submitted for review.

  5. NCCM(Ret) says:


    All charges/tickets/etc., must be listed in the application regardless if ultimately adversely adjudicated. If a charge was dropped without condition, then it is still listed in the application, but it will not require a waiver.

    The education level of the applicant does not matter when determining whether a waiver is possible; however, when the applicant is eligible for a waiver, the education status may be considered when the approval authority is making their ultimate decision for approval/disapproval.

  6. NCCM(Ret) says:


    No. There are no waivers authorized for an adversely adjudicated distribution of marijuana charge.

  7. Jonathan says:

    Thanks for the information NCCM. I actuality just looked up adversely adjudicated. It say’s it only apply for the Air force, Air force reserve, Air national guard, and Air Force academy.
    I am still kinda confused though. On how there will give waivers for possession of majujanna misdemeanor but not intent misdemeanor? I mean my charge is a misdemeanor not a felony.

  8. NCCM(Ret) says:


    Because having anything to do with production/distribution/selling of illegal drugs has been determined to be an offense that is not eligible for a waiver — it doesn’t matter what classification the state may have placed on it.

  9. Best Recruit says:

    I had juvenille possession of marijuana about 10 years ago. My recruiter could not find police records due to me serving probation which had them removed, so he had to contact my probation office. I thought it was only less than an ounce but they told him it was 2-4 ounces. It was a misdemeanor and there was no intent to distribute. Does this disqualify me? Thanks.

  10. NCCM(Ret) says:

    Best Recruit,

    That is a lot of marijuana — I would think legal will find that to be more than what is normal for experimental use; I would not be surprised if they find you ineligible.

  11. Best Recruit says:

    I only did experimental use around 10 times in my life, and that particular night I was with a large group of friends who probably would have used it by the end of the night. I regret being caught with the wrong crowd and have been out of trouble since then. Also my AFQT was 75 and my pracatice ASVAB was 95. Thanks for your help.

  12. Chase says:

    Can I join the seals? I have a possession of marijuana charge which I got 3 years ago when I was 13, I’m 16 now and have no intent of using marijuana again, I’ve been clean for three years, and I’ve smoked marijuana about 5-7 times.

  13. NCCM(Ret) says:


    As it states in the post, a waiver is possible for a single simple possession of marijuana charge. The Navy SEAL is the Special Warfare Operator (SO) rating.

  14. Nate says:

    Hi I have 1 possesion of parafenalia, 2 possesion of alcahol by a minor and 1 DWI. I scored an 82 on my asvab loads of college credits. I don’t smoke weed or drink at all since the DWI 3 years ago. My recruiter is working hard on my approval and waivers I’m just curious on your thoughts. Thankyou

  15. Nate says:

    The parafenalia was a misdemeanor at age 14 and erased from my record. I also meant to say that I haven’t touched weed since that age

  16. NCCM(Ret) says:


    I answered your question on the first page you asked it, and here is how I replied;

    Besides the NRD moral waiver for the two Misconduct Offenses (one Misconduct Offense if the paraphernalia charge was unconditionally dropped), and you also need an NRD alcohol abuse waiver because of the three alcohol related offenses.

    Now, with your additional information, the statement is still true — keep in mind, the age at the time of the offense doesn’t matter when determining whether something requires a waiver, and also, the paraphernalia charge sounds like it was adversely adjudicated, so it counts (it doesn’t matter what the court does later once it was adversely adjudicated).

  17. Manny says:


    I am thinking of joining the Navy Reserves. I was enlisted in the past. Is it possible to obtain a waiver for a prior Xanax prescription? I took it for a while only to fly. I haven’t taken it in more than two years. The prescription ran out two years ago.

  18. NCCM(Ret) says:


    Submit all the associated medical/treatment records that pertain to the prescription — your bout with anxiety will have to be reviewed.

  19. Philip says:

    A person in a PhD program for clinical psychology has a history of drug use in adolescence, followed by rehabilitation and almost 10 years without alcohol or illicit substances. Is it possible to be accepted for a health services professional scholarship, or are they immediately screened out?

  20. NCCM(Ret) says:


    If the person is able to receive the medical waiver required for prior substance abuse (difficult), that prior behavior will most certainly impact whether or not acceptance into the program would be forthcoming. Unlike the enlisted medical programs, prior drug usage/incidents are not an immediate disqualifier for officer programs (instructionally), but move forward expecting that same standard to be applied.

    Good luck, and I do hope it works out for you.

  21. Miko says:

    Hi I am a 28 year old who had a prior possession and paraphernalia charge over 8 yrs ago, does that qualify for a waiver because I tried enlisting 2 years ago and they told me I was disqualified, but that may have been only for the Army.

  22. NCCM(Ret) says:


    It depends on the drug and how much drug you had.

  23. Miko says:

    It was marijuana and it was less than 2g

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