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 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, 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 conduct 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 (1,475)

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1,475 Responses to “Navy Drug Waivers”

  1. Louis Flores says:

    look i was 282 i took these diet pills that my mom took in the past and she lost 100 pounds i lost 120 in 6 months but i always asked my mom is there anything bad in them and she said no she works at a nursing home and nurses there took so since they took them your goin to beleive that theres nothing in them so i went to meps with my airforce recruiter passed everything then 2 weeks later she called me up saying i was PDQ for methamphemines and i started to cry and she said what was it and i told her only to diet pills because i dont do drugs or anything like that in my life because i always played sports so i know that drugs could ruin a person but my recruiter told me well im sorry and she said she felt sorry because she never asked me if i took anything and the day before meps i guess ypur recruiter gives u a drug test she didnt but now i just wanna join any branch thats why i need a waiver but i get mad because i dont do drugs and theres thousands of people that joined that did crimes and all that when i have never done anything wrong in my life so do you thing i can get a waiver in the future

  2. NCCM(ret) says:


    As stated in my post – you have no recourse.

  3. cj says:

    when i was in 7th grade i had a distribution charge for giving a kid a benedryl in school. is there no waiver

  4. NCCM(ret) says:


    There is no waiver authorized for any charge that involved illegal distribution of drugs.

  5. chris says:

    My son had a drug possession charge at age 16,, It was expunged.. off his record. He is being recruited in the marines and the recruiter told him not to put any thing on his paper work about being charged at that time.. He is very worried about this .. what can he do.. ??

  6. NCCM(ret) says:


    He needs to ensure it is in his paperwork; if it isn’t listed – then make sure he does not sign the application. He will also be asked about any charges when he gets to MEPS (after the physical), he needs to make sure he informs them of his charges and their disposition. The local police records checks may come back without any charges listed, but his FBI check will.

  7. Jeff says:

    I was charged and plead guilty to possession of MJ in 2009. Is there any possibility of joining the navy with that charge on my criminal record? Or any possibility of receiving a waiver for that charge. I have a letter of recommendation from the Judge who handled my case, for eligibility of enlistment in the navy.

  8. NCCM(ret) says:


    You charge could be considered for a waiver –

  9. James says:

    I am looking to take a run at becoming a navy seal. I want to be in an environment with other goal driven people because I just can’t seem to find it in my current college situation.

    I am assuming from your article that I am eligible for a waiver but I am wondering how my previous experimentation shall affect my career as a Navy Seal.

    I have smoked marijuana 6 times and I have done shrooms twice.

    Sorry to bother you with specifics.

    P.S. Just out of curiosity, are there any types of lie detector tests or other similar tests when becoming a navy seal because of a need for a security clearance? (since I am reasonably sure that you need to be able to obtain a security clearance as a Seal.)


  10. NCCM(ret) says:


    As I stated in the post, I will not go into how many times used of what drugs may be waiverable, but will say that you will require one for enlistment due to the mushroom usage. I am unaware of a lie detector test for the Special Warfare Operator rating or any level of clearance. I did not require one for my Top Secret clearance, but I held it prior to 9/11.

  11. Donald says:


    Thanks for your service and all the great feedback you provide on these boards. I have had several discussions with both Navy and Army recruiters and it seemed that I was not a viable candidate for service because I told them I had 2 DUIs; one from 1999 and one from 2005. I requested my FBI record check and only the DUI from 2005 appears on the report; however, it is listed as a second offense DUI. There are no other events on my background check. Do you have any insight as to whether that data would bar me from enlisting? Thanks again.

  12. NCCM(ret) says:


    Having two DUIs is waiverable if the applicant is otherwise outstanding, AND that additional issues, such as a lack of seats, that have local services impose even higher standards than provided by regulation. The latter is completely in the discretion of the local recruiting personnel.

  13. Celina says:


    I am an unemployed college grad wanting to join the military but have a 3 traffic tickets for lapsed registration, lapsed insurance and failure to appear in court for the matters. My license was also suspended.I am currently clearing clearing them up but would this require a waiver? I also owe the irs $1500 for a vehicle that was charged off in 2005 but have not been making payments because I’m broke. Would this disqualify me?And finally I was issued a cannabis card last year for pain I was having in my back and leg due to being over weight. Ive since lost 30 pounds, no longer experience pain and dont use the card, although I know I’m in a database somewhere out in cyberspace. Would this disqualify me? Thanks for your help

  14. NCCM(ret) says:


    Your traffic tickets must be paid off before you could process, but they shouldn’t require a waiver. The charge off, and the resulting credit issues will hurt your chances for jobs that require security clearances, but shouldn’t be a huge obstacle to joining. The drug use may require an enlistment waiver. Your biggest hurdle will be the previous back and leg pain you experienced because it really wasn’t that long ago; you may require an orthopedic consultation. Also, good job on the weight loss! Keep that up – the height and weight standards are here

  15. Sean says:

    Hi, I have a question about the Navy tattoo policy. I have a tattoo at the very base of my neck. It is not disrespectful in any way and it is low enough to definitly be covered by a dress uniform. I understand it may dq me because part of it would show in my pt tee but do you think that there is any way I could weasel my way around that because it would be covered by dress? thank you for your time.

  16. NCCM(ret) says:


    If the tattoo is on any part of your neck, it would be disapproved.

  17. Karen says:

    My son had two drug paraphernalia and two drug possesion of less than 1/2 oz. marajuana in 2009. He completed a drug class for one and community service for the other. He had one paraphernalia and less than 1/2 oz again about 6 months ago with underage drinking. His attorney can get the current charges dropped if he goes ahead and enlists (he had already been talking with the Marines about a year and a half ago, but now they won’t because of the charges…he scored 86 on his tests when he went down there). Is there a way that the Navy would let him enlist if the judge removes the charges (judge will if he were to bring in a paper from the Navy that states he would immediately go straight to boot camp in which he is ready)? He only wants a second chance. Or, will he have to wait a year and prove that he ready to start new and stay out of trouble?

  18. NCCM(ret) says:


    Having a charge dropped for the purposes of enlistment is not allowed. Your son is not qualified.

  19. fernetta says:

    can u take diet pills to lose weight in order to qualify for the navy…. just asking because i know that they do drug testing.

  20. NCCM(ret) says:


    Diet pills should not be used to lose weight – use diet and exercise – create a culture for yourself of health living.

  21. anthony says:

    i was wondering i was 17 and now im 19 i got detained not arressted but it still came up as possession of marijuana posssession of paraphenlia and criminial tresspessing for throwing eggs off the top of a train tressel when i was 16 i was enlisting in the army and the recrutier came back and said this was a DQ, any chance of the navy accepting me?

  22. NCCM(ret) says:


    By what you describe, it sounds like you have at least 4 misconduct charges – you would need to go to the Recruiter and have him detail each charge – it does not look promising.

  23. John says:

    Hi, my life goal is to become a Navy SEAL, but I’ve made my mistakes. I’ve smoked marijuana regularly for about 4 months, but have since cleaned up. I’ve never been charged with any crimes and could pass a urine and hair test now. I don’t plan on ever using the substance ever again, and I would rather be honest to the Navy about my prior usage. Is it impossible for me to get a waiver?

  24. NCCM(ret) says:


    If you are otherwise qualified, you are eligible for a waiver.

  25. Anthony says:

    I have a similar case to that of Jeff, where I plead guilty on a MJ possesions charge and received a ACD later cleared/dismissed. What is the likelihood I would be granted a waiver percentage-wise upon joining? I haven’t touched or wanted to be around the stuff since. I am trying to BUDDY up with my cousin.

  26. NCCM(ret) says:


    So much information beyond that of the charge itself is used to determine the outcome of a waiver that it would be impractical, and potentially misleading, for me to do so. Things like your level of education, job references, ASVAB score, your demeanor during the interview, and much more are used in the moral waiver process; however, I can tell you that you are in fact eligible for a waiver.

  27. Pierce says:

    Hello ,

    I have never had envolvment with drugs but the issue that worries me for enlistment is the weight requirements. I am 21 years old, 6 foot 4 inches tall and I weigh approx 290. However I was wondering if there is an enlistment waiver for weight I had taken the asvab 3 years ago and recieved a pretty good overall score, as well as two years JROTC i left as a Cdt. 1st. Lt. My life led me away from the path of enlistment but now it has brought me back towards it. I have the drive to lose the weight I just need a guiding hand. (Even if it is one upside my head once in awhile.)Just wondering if I will have to lose the weight on my own or if i can recieve a waiver?

  28. NCCM(ret) says:


    Here is the standards you will see that a person’s body fat measurement can be used if over the maximum weight. That is the standards, if you don’t meet them, there is no additional recourse other than to lose the weight.

    Here is an example of one Sailor that had to do very much the same thing be fore he was able to join –

    Hope this helps.

  29. Marie says:

    Just wondering if I have a chance at getting in the Navy.
    I’m 29, a high school graduate, a state tested nurse aide and I have some college credits. I have a strong and professional work history.
    However, my past is not so good. I have been attending AA and Na for several years (over 7 years now!) due to alcoholism and opiate addiction. I was never hospitalized, institutionalized, no DUIs no jail. I am very active in 12 step recovery work in my community.
    I have also been a victim of domestic violence and sexual assault. Between the violence and addiction I have a lot of bad medical debts however no bankruptcies or repossessions.
    As a juvenile I had a couple of misdemeanor unruly child charges that were expunged and several speeding tickets, all but 1 were 7-10 years ago.
    I know this stuff would be a recuiter’s nightmare, however as I said most is in the past and I feel as if I have something to offer the Navy.
    Thanks you in advance.

  30. NCCM(ret) says:


    At the bottom of this post; – it details the waiver process for those who have prior drug and/or alcohol dependency issues.

  31. Grant says:

    I was wondering if i had a chance of obtaining a waiver for my marijuana use and poss. of paraphernelia charges. They both occured about a year ago and they occured at the same time (same case.)
    Other than a few speeding tickets, these are the only charges on my record.

  32. NCCM(ret) says:


    Follow the moral/civil waiver link in the post, it will give you a better idea of what is waiverable and the process.

  33. Andrew I says:

    My name Is Andrew and I live in Bremerton wa. I have been on a journey to serve my country for quite some time now. During highschool I was always set on a future in the service, so much that I enrolled in a military school for 6 months away from my friends and family to prepare for the military. The day I graduated I smoked marijuana and got a DUI and could no longer join the army. In my depression I drank my sorrows away until I decided to join the marines with my childhood bestfriend because he said I could and I believed him. We went in together he was accepted and left for basic and I was once again denied for one simple mistake I made. After my second rejection my depression got worse culminating in me getting charged with 3rd degree theft for stealing alcohol. Do you think there is a chance for me in the navy? I’m clean I have completed all drug treatment classes and I am in peak physical condition. Please don’t bullshit me sir I am a young man who wants nothing but to answer the call of duty. If you think there is a chance for me I will go to the navy recruiters tomorrow. All I have on my record is a DUI for marijuana and a level 3 theft no possession or intent to sell or felonies.

    Thank you

  34. NCCM(ret) says:


    After you read the moral waivers page via the moral/civil waiver link, you will see that the charges themselves could receive a waiver, but much more goes into the decision than just what charges you have. Did you graduate high school or did you drop out and then go to the military school? Is the military school considered a Tier 1 institution, or does the military consider the diploma on the same level as a GED? A person with a GED type education status will not get a waiver with that much baggage. How long after the DUI did you try to apply? There is a mandatory 1 year waiting time after a DUI adjudication.

    Another concern, the biggest one for me, is the reasons you give for having these episodes; you drank your sorrows away, your depression got bad so you went out and stole alcohol; until you are able to figure that out, I do not think you are best qualified for any service. You may want to seek treatment – you may never qualify for the service, but it may improve your outlook.

  35. Grant says:

    Im apologize if this is a stupid question but will the navy give me a waiver for my marijuana use and poss of parephernelia charges? They both occured at the same time ( same case and everything). I also have 2 or 3 speeding tickets but other than that my record is clean and i believe im otherwise qualified.
    Thank you for your time.

  36. Andrew I says:

    Andrew again,
    The military school is called the Washington youth academy it’s a program for wayward teens, I graduated highschool through the program and earned my diploma not GED. The program is greT for anyteens thinking of enlisting.

    Also to clarify other things I exaggerated things when I said I drank alot. Yes I was sad but I wasnt suicidal or a wreck or anything like that. I was an 18 year old kid that was unsure of his immediate future. If my coworkers invited me to party with them I figured I had nothing else to do. Btw I never smoked again after the DUI. It was my first and only time. After being turned down by the marines I was sad again but still I never drank an drove or anything stupid like that. The theft occurred when I made the choice to put a can of beer on my pocket in a gas station. I didn’t Try running out with a shopping cart filled with beer or anything like that. Since that had occurred I have been completed clean, part of that is because I met the woman I will marry. She has become my rock keeping me out of trouble this past year. She is the reason I want to enlist so I can provide for the family we will soon have. I know in my first message I was vague about the drinking but I can assure you and any recruiter or navy brass that I am a competent sober young man.

    One final note. I received the DUI on January 13th of 2010 and the theft on august 1st 2010. It has been well over a year since the DUI. If it is possible for me to receive waivers I hope I can receive them.

  37. NCCM(ret) says:


    It is possible to get a waiver based on the charges you divulged. These are charges after your school for wayward teens, was there police involvement prior to the military school? That would also count in the math.

  38. NCCM(ret) says:


    As I previously answered, you will get a more detailed response by following the link – yes, you could receive a waiver for what you mentioned, but a lot more than just the charge is reviewed.

  39. NCCM(ret) says:


    One more thing – because the theft included alcohol and you were within the one year of the DUI, your year wait may have extended until August of 2011 – not 100% on that, but it would make sense. Talk to a recruiter.

  40. Andrew I says:

    Alright thank you very much for the information sir. I would have already talked to a navy recruiter but being rejected by the army and marine recruiters I have been discouraged to do so. Your forum has been very uplifting to my spirits and I thank you. Hopefully I can be granted these waivers so I can serve my country and a higher purpose.

  41. Jack says:

    In the above passage it states that you cannot be arrested for intent to sell. Did you mean that you can’t be convicted? Does this mean that it doesn’t matter if the charges are dismissed? Thanks for your time.

  42. NCCM(ret) says:


    If the charge was dismissed after you completed some action, like having to say you were sorry, community service, unsupervised or supervised probation, anything – then it is a guilty finding and you would be barred from joining. Your police records and court documents would have to be submitted for review to the legal department.

  43. Terry says:

    I got a possession & paraphernalia of marijuana. The possession was dropped and the paraphernalia was dropped to a disorderly conduct. I also got a probation violation. I was told by my recruiter that I cant join. Is this correct? I was told that it falls under (CRNC) I think is what he said. But I read something about a unconditionally dropped or dismissed violation is no big deal when join the NAVY. Since the possession was dropped or dismissed and I didn’t pay a fine or serve probation for the possession then it should be a unconditionally dropped or dismissed violation. It was my paraphernalia violation that I payed a fine and did probation for. Also when I got the PO violation, It didn’t change my probation at all nor did I pay anything extra for the PO violation. I’m just confused and want to figure out if I will ever have a chance to join the Navy I have always wanted to join the Navy.

  44. Art says:

    I am a college grad interested in joining the Navy. I used marijuana less than 10 times, never bought or sold, never any trouble with the law except for a speeding ticket almost 10 years ago. Last use over three years ago. Does this require a waiver?

  45. NCCM(ret) says:


    Not an enlistment waiver, but you may be a program waiver depending on the rating you may otherwise qualify for that is available.

  46. Art says:

    Thank you for the first answer. Is there a list of what the waivers and rules are on the Internet? What ratings are the most stringent and are there that automatically disqualify?

  47. Rod says:

    In high school, I smoked marijuana 3 times, tried ecstasy and cocaine once when I was 21. I’m currently 31 years old and have been clean for the past 10 years and do not intend to use any drugs ever again. Will I be eligble for a waiver? If so, are my chances pretty slim due to the ecstasy and cocaine use?

  48. NCCM(ret) says:


    More than enough time has passed for a wavier to be considered. If your waiver is approved, the number of ratings (jobs) you would be eligible for would be reduced because some programs have very strict standards, ie. those that require the highest level of security clearance.

  49. Rod says:

    Will I be disqualified for any CT ratings with the drugs I previously used?

  50. adam says:

    I was in quite a bit of minor trouble as a juvenile. When I turned 18 it still took a little while to learn how to be a responsible adult. I smoked a marijuana joint with a friend one night and unknown to me it was laced with cocaine. I was arrested that next morning for driving under suspension and was given a urine test which I failed for both drugs. I was charged and I plead out to attempted possession of cocaine a misdemeanor 1. Would I he eligible for a waiver and if so could you tell me what its called please.

    Thank you for your time,

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