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 (1,455)

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1,455 Responses to “Navy Drug Waivers”

  1. NCCM(ret) says:


    The single possession charge would require a moral waiver, and the use of the drug would require a drug abuse waiver – that said, you would need to evaluate all your charges, both adult and juvenile, to determine the level or to see if you are even eligible for a moral waiver. Use the charts on this page for the level of waiver required –

  2. adam leugers says:

    Thank you very much that’s much more helpful then anything else I’ve got so far.

  3. George says:

    Hello, I have a quick simple question. Ive been busted for poss of marijuana twice, other than that a couple speeding tickets my records clean. Ive trully only been marijuana free about 3 months now but i obviusly would pass a urine test and i have no desire to use again. Do I have a shot at a waiver?

  4. NCCM(ret) says:


    You are eligible for waiver consideration, but your chances of approval rest with your entire history, not just the indiscretions – ie. education, job references, test scores, etc.

  5. George says:

    Thanks for that information. I have only really worked at one place but Ive worked there for about 4 years now and im only 19 and I could easily get a recommendation letter from my boss as well as my old guidance counciler. I scored a 27 on the act and a 1170 on the sat no counting writing. I originaly scored a 89 on the asvab but im sure that scores expired by now. Does this info give me a decent shot? And is there anything else you would recommend I do before going to see a recruiter?
    Thank you for your time.

  6. Mitch says:

    Hi I’m trying to join the navy and be a nuke. I scored 91 on my asvab and automatically qualified. But I tried marijuana once when I was 14 and haven’t done it since. Also I have on ticket from a year ago that was paid on time. Other than that I am clear. Is there any reason I wouldn’t get the security clearance?

  7. NCCM(ret) says:


    You would be eligible with a Navy Recruiting District Commanding Officer Nuclear Field program waiver provided you are otherwise fully qualified for the program.

  8. Robert says:

    I am trying to get my brother to join the Navy but he had some past arrests that were dissmised and later expunged after completion of a pre-trial program. The charges were possestion of marijuana, resisting arrest, and assault on a law enforcement officer w/o violence, all misdemeanors. Will any of this stop him from enlisting?

  9. NCCM(ret) says:


    At a minimum, he would require an approved waiver by the Admiral in charge of Navy Recruiting Command – achieving that level of waiver in today’s environment of high unemployment would be a very difficult proposition.

  10. Allison says:

    If you receive a ticket for “solicitation” (of drugs) does that ban you from enlisting?

  11. NCCM(ret) says:


    Your police and courts records will have to be reviewed and evaluated to ensure you were not involved on the sale end of the transaction; as long as you were not involved in the selling, you should be waiverable if you are otherwise qualified for the positions that are open.

  12. b says:

    I’m considering enlisting but have had prior marijuana, cocaine, and mushroom use. In particular I was a medical marijuana patient for two years out west so that is obviously extensive. No distribution nor convictions. Only two times with mushrooms and four times with cocaine. It will be another year before I expect to be at the weight I need to be at and will be 34 at that time as well. I’m done with all of it regardless of enlisting or any other circumstances but being a medical user is my biggest concern. It was an actual medical need if that matters.

  13. NCCM(ret) says:


    You will require a drug waiver – there will be a few jobs that you will not be eligible for, but an enlistment waiver is possible. For active duty, you must leave for boot-camp prior to your 35th birthday. Here is an example of one individual who lost a lot of weight to join, he is in the Navy now and doing very well.

  14. b says:

    I suppose that applies to jobs requiring clearance. My experience for the last 15 years had been in information technology. Seeing all the malware and information warfare happening in the world today really grinds my gears. I guess if that field is not possible for me anymore it is what it is. I would even be willing to gamble on the chance of getting clearance down the road if that is a possibility. It’s not about the money, I can go back to sales for that.

  15. Jake says:

    Is this policy the same for OCS? Also I noticed in comment replies that a lot of these people are eligible for waivers, is/are there any reason(s) an eligible person may not receive a waiver?

  16. NCCM(ret) says:


    I have seen numerous people get disapproved for waivers. I think the biggest reason for disapproval would be the attitude displayed by the person during their interview. The disconnect they have with the fact that drug usage is against the law – they tend to blame others for using the drug, and cannot articulate why they won’t do it again.

    Officer drug use waivers are similar to that of enlisted drug waivers.

  17. lynzie says:

    My son has two charges one from when he was 16 the otehr from early 2000′s. They are both for possesion of marijuana. But since then has had a clean life with no charges. I am wondering his chances of getting in? He also has a tatoo on his back does that require a waiver?

  18. NCCM(ret) says:


    Technically, he can proceed with a waiver if otherwise qualified, whether he gets approval or not depends on all the other factors in his life, including, but not limited to, his education, test scores, job references, etc. As far as the tattoo goes, it depends on what it is; here is a good gouge for the tattoo question:

  19. lynzie says:

    He also has a daugher. He is a high school graduate. He will have great job references. He has held his past job for six years now. So he is steady. He owns his home. The marijuana charges are felonies i should add that 1999 and 2003 so as a juvienille then adult. I know that is two waivers right? And his daughter is one? As long as everything else looks good are his chances good? He doesn’t want to go in there and get completely shot down. He will straight up tell you he was dumb its his fault but he wants a chance to show his daughter what a great man he can be.

  20. NCCM(ret) says:


    If they are felony possessions, he is not eligible for a waiver. If he is a single parent with custody, he is not qualified for enlistment onto active duty.

  21. jess says:

    My comment is all missspelled and wrong. Who is the commanding officer in Florida and how may I get a hold of them? Also with the other girls statement above a friend had a felony and got it waived because it wasnt convicted I think

  22. NCCM(ret) says:


    A single felony could receive a waiver as per instruction, but currently, felony waivers are not being processed because of the shear number of applicants wanting to join that do not have felonies on their record. To contact a district’s commanding officer, I suggest you go through your local Navy recruiting station, or send a letter to the headquarters – not sure if it is NRD Jacksonville or Miami for your specific area – here is the NRD addresses and websites.

  23. jess says:

    Is it better with someone who has a felony to try to join in the holiday season? Do less people try to join around that time of year. I know the site says get a letter of recommendation from congress however we also know that is a joke congress is nopt going to put their head out there. How about letters from active and retired Navy personel?

  24. NCCM(ret) says:


    Personal recommendations are OK, but job references carry much more weight.

    Letters from congressmen don’t carry any weight, unless it is a job reference or they can attest to knowing you personally for an extended period of time.

    The time of year isn’t going to matter; keep in touch with your local recruiting station and they can tell you when the moratorium on “full kit” waivers is lifted. I have a feeling it will be quite some time.

  25. Jess says:

    A recruiter told me to get a letter of recommendation fronm congressmen is that for nothing?I am so confused.he said the decision isn’t up to him it’s up to the recruiting commanding officer.I am just trying to figure out how to sway the navy’s mind and show I am serious about this and want this.

  26. NCCM(ret) says:


    I assume he is thinking the letter will sway Navy Recruiting to process your waiver, he is grabbing at straws, and he is wrong. A congressional letter will not push your waiver through by having Navy Recruiting rescind its current policy of not processing felony full kit waivers.

  27. Paul says:

    I was upfront with my recruiter that I received a misdemeanor possession of marijuana charge (the only charge I’ve ever received for .017 gram of marijuana – not even a speeding ticket). The charge was expunged on the grounds of good behavior and completion of my probation and community service. When I asked my recruiter if I would be ineligible for an MA rating based on my charge, his answer was unclear but I did not want to push the issue. Will my charge make me ineligible for an MA rating?

  28. NCCM(ret) says:

    The instruction states for the Master at Arms rating;

    No civil involvement within past 36 months (except minor traffic). No drug or alcohol waivers above NAVCRUITDIST CO level. Must be eligible for security clearance.

    A misdemeanor possession of MJ charge is at the NRD CO level, so you are eligible as long as you are otherwise qualified and the CO grants your waiver.

  29. CJ says:

    In 1992 I used LSD twice in one week, and never touched it again. I have used marijuana about 8 times and not since I was 18 (I am now 32). Since then, I have 11 years of government service, almost have a master degree completed and currently hold an active TS clearance eligibility. I have no criminal charges and no other issues in my background. Am I eligible for service in the Navy and I am interested in the MA and intel ratings. I am open to other ratings if those are not possible.

    Thank you

  30. NCCM(ret) says:


    You are ineligible for Master at Arms, and would require a waiver for the intel ratings.

  31. JC says:

    When do you think the fulll kit waivers will be raised? And is tehre a way a recruiter can do it for certain people?

  32. NCCM(ret) says:


    No idea, but the way things are currently, I do see the moratorium being lifted any time soon.

    I am not aware of any caveats to the policy, you would need to discuss that with your recruiter.

  33. Joe says:

    When I was 16 I received a simple possession of marijuana ticket. I took classes and had the ticket removed and I have been clean since(I understand that the ticket will appear on a background check). I was just wondering if I was eligible for a waiver? also does this ticket affect me from ever receiving a commission?
    -Thanks for your time

  34. NCCM(ret) says:


    You require a civil waiver for the possession of MJ (link to the chart is in the post). How much the charge affects your chances at a commission or and enlistment depends on the the program or designator and every other aspect of your life to date.

  35. jonathan says:

    i have a Probation Violation–Misdemeanor how will that affect me in joing the Navy

  36. NCCM(ret) says:


    Use the moral/civil waiver link in the post – a violation of probation is a non-traffic offense.

  37. Steve says:

    Hello Sir,

    I am 30 years old. I have smoked marijuana approx 10 times in my life, the last time being about five years ago. I tried cocain twice when I was 18. Having no guidance, I filed bankruptcy for 10k in debt at age 22. Since then, I have gone on to attain 3.9 GPA en route to a BA from a top-ranked university, followed by a MS from an equally renowned institution. I have had no credit, police, or drug issues since then. I was previously recruited by a civilian federal agency requiring TS/SCI, and they were aware of all of these issues before extending me an offer. I chose to try for a commission in the Navy. I assume the Navy can, but is there a reasonable chance they will use the “whole person” concept as the civilian side did? There is nothing but a positive trajectory in my life and achievements since faltering in my youth (8-12 years ago). My commission, like the civilian offer, would be in intelligence (allows applicants up to age 35).Thank you for your time.

  38. Steve says:

    I forgot to mention that I also had a DUI charge at age 18 that was dropped upon attending a diversion program, with only a reckless driving on my record – small fine and some community service.Again, all these issues taken in sum seem like a lot, but they are all 8-12 years ago when I was 18-22.Law was a one-off instance. Drugs have been so few in quantity over a 14 year period (16 to present) and the financial issue was just stupid, but I didn’t know better, nor have I repeated it. Everything since then (8 years) has been pretty much blemish free (save one instance of smoking pot 6 years ago when I was in college). If an exclusice agency with as strict if not more strict requirements was able to see beyond this, do you believe the Navy might? Can they? My boards are in two months, and I am currently finishing my package. Thank you again.

  39. NCCM(ret) says:


    You meet the minimum requirements for consideration. Your “Behind the Wheel” charge (any alcohol involvement while driving, no matter what the state calls it, is equally bad in the Navy’s eye) along with your previous drug usage will have to be waived – the Navy does use the “whole person” concept. The process is very competitive. Contact your local officer recruiter.

  40. Charles says:

    I am 22, looking to join the SEALs as an OCS candidate. I used Cannabis for 1 and 1/2 years and haven’t touched the substance since becoming 18 years of age. It sounds like this is a typical case of needing a waiver, but I am wondering if there is any issues with attempting to become an officer.

    Thanks is advance.

  41. NCCM(ret) says:


    The standard is the same; however, the scrutiny may be more.

  42. Erica says:


    I had a quick question for you. About a year ago I had experimented with opiates. I felt it was getting a little out of hand so before it went any futher I voluntarily checked myself into a 2 week rehabilitation program which I completed. After that I also voluntarily entered into a recovery program, where they suggested I get on a medication called Suboxone (which I didn’t feel I needed), and I am still on because apparently you have to be weaned off (and I will be off this medication very soon).In the recovery program I also had to take drug screens every week (which I passed), and completed that as well. If I were given a drug screen now I would most certainly pass, I have 9 months drug and alcohol free and I have every sincere intention on keeping it that way. I am ready to be a part of something bigger than myself, and want nothing more than to be a part of the U.S Navy. Will my past stint in rehab keep me from being able to enlist? Thanks


  43. NCCM(ret) says:


    Before you would be eligible for waiver consideration, two years would have to pass once you have completed ALL treatment.

  44. Erica says:

    Thanks for answering my question-I was a little confused because the above literature states “The use of controlled substances…is a minimum of a one year waiting period after use before a waiver could be considered.”, and I’m almost at a year. I intend on being completely honest with my recruiter.I have an appt. with him next Wed. and he told me they were very short on females enlisting-do you think that there could be any exception made? I’ve already been honest about my marijuana use and my one arrest more than a year ago and in more or less words he said there pretty much wasn’t a problem becuase it was only a misdemeanor and becuase I had only smoked marijuana a dozen or so times.So becuase of the lack of females do you think an exception might be able to be made? I truly appreciate all of your feedback and your time-thank you!

  45. Sean says:

    I have a poss. of marijuana charger with a paraphernelia charge attached to it and a 2nd poss charge. I fully understand its a big deal and i did it to myself. Regardless, I have been clean for over a year and want to get my life back on track.Other than the above charges i have a clean record. I have ALWAYS wanted to be in the military. The army was my first choice but with the charges i have NO shot. I kinda was hoping to hear if i had any shot in the Navy. If I dont i understand why but i thought it would be better to ask you than waste a recruiters time. Thank you

  46. NCCM(ret) says:


    Your only hope is if they group the first possession of MJ with the paraphernalia charge – that can only be done if the Navy recruiter can forward your court records to Navy Recruiting legal for review. Chances are not good, but it is worth the shot.

  47. Kait says:

    Hello! I have been recently interested in joining the navy possibly working as a mass communication specialist. But a month or two ago I had smoked marijuana two times and in high school I have drank alcohol at a couple house parties. Could these be wavered? And do I need to wait a certain amount of time to join because of the marijuana use?

  48. NCCM(ret) says:


    Based on what you told me, you do not require a waiver.

    Do not go to MEPS if you have THC in your system.

  49. melissa says:

    Okay. I smoke pot,used to as of yesterday, but never intend to again because its stupid. How long do i have to be clean for before enlisting? I understand i need to be clean but for how long and i will sign a waiver with full intention to be drug free forever, i just want be a sailor soooo bad! Oh ya i have a couple prostitution charges how does that affect my chances.

    Thank you

  50. NCCM(ret) says:


    I suggest that you are at least 3 months marijuana free to ensure the THC is out of your system before proceeding. For two charges of prostitution, waiver consideration is possible if otherwise qualified.

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