CVN-71

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.


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1,451 Responses to “Navy Drug Waivers”


  1. Gideon says:

    I have a intent to distribute(party to a crime) charge that has been dropped to a possession charge upon completion of probation.it’s from 10 years ago. I’m 28 and it’s the only thing on my record other than a couple speeding tickets. Do I have any shot what so ever?

  2. NCCM(ret) says:

    Gideon,

    The fact that the “intent to distribute” was dropped after a condition was met would mean that you’re ineligible for waiver consideration.

  3. Gideon says:

    That certainly is disheartening. Why is it that they are so strict on this? There are people getting waivers for multiple offenses suggesting a pattern of bad behavior and decisions. Then someone like me who has one blemish, a despicable blemish I will admit, cannot even be considered for a waiver. I strive to live by the word of God and it just doesn’t feel fair. I have an opportunity to go to college and have it completely paid for. Honestly though my heart is set on the military and serving the country. Is there any action whatsoever I could take to get enlisted into any branch?

  4. Cindy says:

    My son is interested in joining any branch of the military that he can. He has one felony charge of aiding and abetting, when he was 16. Can he get a waiver?

  5. NCCM(ret) says:

    Cindy,

    What was he aiding and abetting?

  6. Eric says:

    I have two charges in the past year and a half. One is for drug paraphernalia and the other is for disorderly conduct. I have since cleaned myself up and turned over a new leaf. I want to join the Navy or any military service that would accept me. Am I eligible? Also, before it became disorderly conduct I was charged with possession of marijuana, paraphernalia, possession of K2, and possession while operating a motor vehicle…now all of those were dropped and I was convicted of just one count of disorderly conduct.

  7. NCCM(ret) says:

    Eric,

    Your eligibility will be dependent on the details of your court records; specifically, the verbiage concerning the how and why the charges that were dropped. Navy Recruiting Legal would have to review the documentation to make a determination.

  8. KB says:

    When I filled out the required paperwork, I revealed that I smoked pot once. Will that effect me in anyway at MEPS?

  9. Joe says:

    In college I received a Minor in Possession of alcohol ticket by the campus police, but it was removed from my disciplinary records after I completed alcohol education, how should I go about reporting this?

  10. NCCM(ret) says:

    Joe,

    You provide that information to your recruiter. It will need to be listed in your application.

  11. Phil says:

    3 months clean of pot in which i smoked everyday for almost 10 months. I also blew Oxycontin every once in awhile along with other random pills but have been sober of that for more then a year. What are my chances of getting into the Navy?

  12. Joe says:

    Thanks. I know I’ll probably need an alcohol waiver for that, but how exactly will that increase my chances of getting rejected, if at all? It’s a minor incident, all considered…

  13. NCCM(ret) says:

    Joe,

    If you are otherwise a good candidate, your chances of being rejected for that charge are slim.

  14. NCCM(ret) says:

    Phil,

    Not familiar with the term, “blew Oxycontin”, but that along with your use of “been sober” indicates you may have required some sort of drug treatment??

  15. chris says:

    Hi I am in the process of joining the navy something I always wanted to do in life. I’ve made the mistake of getting fired from my two previous jobs. One for tardiness. The other is theft, I was taking snacks out of the lounge and was going to pay them back until one day they said enough was enough and I was fired. I had to write a statements and was ordered to pay them back, in which I did as soon as possibly. My recruiter says to either leave the job out, or the navy wont care about that incident. Im being honest and told the recruiter what happened. I don’t do drugs or anything stupid except the whole snack thing. So my question is will I get disqualified for something so stupid??

  16. NCCM(ret) says:

    Chris,

    Make sure the charge is listed – you would be eligible for a waiver.

  17. Holmes says:

    Hello, I was wondering if I was charged with possession with intent to sell to marijuana less than 20 grams, would I still be able to enlist into the navy or navy reserve? All of the events happened when I was about 14 or 15, haven’t been in any trouble since, and I graduated from high school with honors.

  18. NCCM(ret) says:

    Holmes,

    Anyone with an adversely adjudicated charge of possession of any controlled substance with intent to distribute, including marijuana, is ineligible for enlistment, and there is no waiver consideration authorized.

  19. chris says:

    There wasn’t a charge no police were involved I still put it on the form because I wanted to be honest about it. Will this allow me to join navy?? I payed them back on a agreement between me and loss prevention. But the cops weren’t involved I payed them shortly after. I know it was a stupid decision im just hoping the navy under stands.

  20. NCCM(ret) says:

    Chris,

    If you are otherwise qualified, you should not have a problem with the waiver.

  21. Jon says:

    Hi, I’m wondering if I’d be eligible to enlist as an officer in the navy. I used marijuana regularly for 15 years from ages 16-31. Also took a slew of recreational drugs in the past but never habitually. I’m 32 now and haven’t used any drug in over six months and am done with them. I have no arrests ever. Got 3 traffic tickets over 7 years ago, all I paid on time. I was prescribed anti-depressants for about 3.5 years, got off them about 4 months ago. I still currently take a low dose of PRN Klonopin as prescribed by my doctor. Solid employment record, all employers will provide positive references.

  22. NCCM(ret) says:

    Jon,

    Even if you were able to get a waiver for your previous drug usage, you would not be eligible to join the Navy because of your depression diagnosis and the fact that you are still taking medication for it. Before you could even have any shot at passing the physical, your treatment for depression, including any medications, would have to be stopped for a minimum of 3 years before the medical waiver – if the documents warrant – could be considered. If you were deemed cured today and lead a perfect life for the 3 years post treatment, you would then be beyond the maximum age to join (before your 35th birthday).

  23. Pat says:

    Hello,

    I’m hoping you may be able to answer a few questions for me. I’m 24 years old, have a bachelor’s in linguistics, and currently working a full time job while earning a certificate in paralegal studies. I’m also in really good shape and work out three times a week. I was treated for anxiety and depression in highschool. I was on medication and in therapy. At 18, I stopped it all together because I felt I didn’t need it anymore. I scored well on the ASVAB in highschool and the military has been in the back of my mind since then.

    However, my college years were rather wild. I smoked marijuana frequently and did one other hard drug infrequently but more than what could qualify as experimenting. I was never addicted, however, and did them recreationally.

    However, I still did exceptionally well in college. I graduated 2nd in my class and maintained a 4.0 GPA.

    It’s been three years since I touched drugs. At the time, I was under the false impression that as long as I could pass a drug test, that I’d be alright. In fact, many of the people I associated with when I used to do drugs were in the National Guard, and I saw them doing drugs as well. They’d just “clear” out their systems using expensive drinks from health stores to pass drug tests.

    Years later, the military has moved from the back of my mind to the forefront. Everyday, for the past year, it’s all I can think about. I loved linguistics in school and would love to use what I learned in the service. I find the ability to travel the world so exciting. Anyway, now that I’m doing the research it’s become apparent to me that this drug use could very well disqualify me from joining.

    I brought it up to a family member who is a recruiter in the service and was told: “just say no” to a recruiter. I’m uncomfortable doing this. I was told the background checks are not that in-depth and and since there’s nothing on my record, I’d be fine. My credit is good and I don’t have a criminal record–not even a speeding ticket. However, my research has led me to believe that specializing as a cryptologic linguist would require a high security clearance. This is another reason I wouldn’t want to lie.

    The service is my dream, and I don’t want to get in because I lied. It doesn’t sit well with me at all. The bottom line is I’m a changed person, and at one time I did make very bad decisions. I’ve happily moved past it all and am solely focused on doing the right thing for my future.

    I’m hesitant to speak with a recruiter in person at this point because, I don’t really know if I even have a chance. I think it’s wonderful you have answered so many questions posed by people on here, and would really appreciate your response.

    Thank you.

  24. NCCM(ret) says:

    Pat,

    Experimental use of stimulant or depressant drugs, narcotics, hallucinogenic, or psychedelic drugs over one year ago would require a waiver, as would the use of marijuana over 6 months ago (anything sooner would be disqualifying) for the cryptology ratings. Enlistment and or program waivers for drug usage greater than what would be determined to be experimental would not receive wavier consideration at this time.

  25. Pat says:

    Thank you for your response, it’s good to know where I stand.

    Have a great weekend,

    Pat.

  26. Amy says:

    Hi i am 22 years old. I got expelled from High school for smoking pot. But didn’t do any jail time or got it put on my records. I have my GED and college credits. Do I need a waiver or is it better to not say anything???

  27. NCCM(ret) says:

    Amy,

    It is never a good idea to withhold information during the enlistment process. As a matter of fact, the recruiters would be required to get your high school transcripts because you did not finish.

  28. Zachary Reeves says:

    Hey if ive done drugs before (I dont do them now and never will again) will i still be eligible for the Navy SEALs? please i need an honest answer thank you

  29. NCCM(ret) says:

    Zachary,

    Drug use other than the experimental use of marijuana is disqualifying for the SO rating.

  30. Zachary Reeves says:

    What if i have only done marijuana for a short period of time many years ago?

  31. Roger says:

    I smoked marijuana as a kid for a reasonable amount of time. I was suspended from school for it and also got a possession ticket which was dismissed. When I was smoking marijuana I got myself a medical prescription for it, but no longer smoke. I am now a beach lifeguard and can not see myself working in any civilian job. All of my actions took place before I was 18 and I was wondering if my past actions would disqualify me from joining the navy, particularly the AIRR division because it is my passion to help people in intense situations. Also I was wondering what a security clearance was and if there was no way passing it now.

    thank you, Roger

  32. NCCM(ret) says:

    Roger,

    You are not eligible for AIRR. No waiver authorized.

    You would require a drug waiver for your marijuana use and a moral/criminal waiver for the possession to enlist in the military.

  33. orient says:

    Hello,

    I’ve been reading through the comments on this page. I just wanted to say I found them very helpful.

    After speaking with a recruiter and taking the practice ASVAB, my recruiter recommended I look into the NAVY’s nuke program, which I am very interested in. When I was in college, and for awhile after I finished, I smoked weed (for about a year total). Sometimes daily, sometimes just a couple times a week. I have not smoked in over a year, and I do not plan to smoke again in the future. After reading the previous posts, it seems like this is not disqualifying if I get a waiver. Is that the case? I mentioned this to my recruiter already but he did not ask me how many times/for how long. I have begun also started filling out the paperwork for a TS security clearance, and I was honest about my prior usage.

    What are your thoughts/opinions on this? I am a 23 year old male with a spotless criminal records, and good grades in college.

    Thanks!!

  34. NCCM(ret) says:

    Orient,

    The amount of usage you describe will require a waiver from the highest level for the Nuclear Power program.

  35. orient says:

    Thanks for the reply! Is this waiver going to be hard to obtain? If the waiver were denied, would I be able to enlist with a different job that does not have such a high security clearance level?

    Thanks again!

  36. Alex says:

    I was cited for possession of a usable amount of marijuana in October of 2009 (I can count the number of times I smoked before that point on one hand). Prior to that, I had two citations for underage possession of alcohol. I haven’t smoked in two years and am, at best, a casual drinker. I have a BA with 3.4 GPA, am bilingual, and really want to apply to Navy OCS when I’m finished with my master’s degree in 2013. What are my chances of getting the waivers necessary to join and what restrictions will I continue to face even if I get the waivers?

  37. NCCM(ret) says:

    Alex,

    I do not know what your chances would be for a commission, I suggest you contact your local officer recruiter for a detailed response.

  38. Ruby says:

    I am a 34 yo female who has a history of methamphetamine abuse (never arrested except for an alchol related DUI in October 2010). I stopped using methamphetamine as of 7/10/11 and quit drinking 7/31/11. I have a sponsor and am working a 12 step program. I did graduate high school in 1993 when I was 16. Because of my past drug/alcohol abuse and due to my age I was wondering if I still have any shot at enlisting in the Navy, possibly the reserves?

  39. NCCM(ret) says:

    Ruby,

    Once you have been released from any drug treatment for for dependence a minimum of two years, and you are otherwise fully qualified, you may be considered for a waiver.

  40. Garrett says:

    Hello,

    I am currently in my first year of college, but I am looking to enlist in the Navy, because I have discovered that college does not interest me (not to make it seem like joining the Navy was just some spur-of-the-moment decision; I’ve done thorough research). I have tried marijuana three times while in college, but it has been over a month since I last used it (I know the exact date when I resolved to not touch the stuff again, for what it’s worth). I will not use it ever again, and though I have spent time around people while they have been using it since I stopped, I have had no problem not partaking in its use.

    From what I have read from the comments above (Kait’s question, specifically), it seems this may not require a waiver simply for enlistment in the Navy in general. However, if I were interested in the EOD program (similar to Zach’s desire to become an SO, I suppose), how would this affect my enlistment, as recent as the usage was? Is it possible (or necessary) to receive a waiver for this to join the EOD program? And if so, is there a reasonable amount of time I should wait before having any hope to enlist for the EOD program?

    Additionally, would two minor traffic offenses present any problems in my situation?

    Thank you very much for your assistance,
    Garrett

  41. NCCM(ret) says:

    Garrett,

    Once the THC has cleared your system, you would be eligible for a EOD program waiver if otherwise qualified.

  42. Christopher says:

    I am interested in becoming a Navy MA. I smoked weed in college but have no prior convictions of any kind. I have never been arrested and have no history of mental issues. Would this disqualify me from my dream of working in law enforcement? Thank you for your time.

  43. NCCM(ret) says:

    Christopher,

    For the Master at Arms rating, you will require a waiver for your marijuana use.

  44. Christopher says:

    A form online said waivers are not permitted for MA. So I am out of luck? One more thing sir, I have 1/8″ holes in my ears where there was once guaged earrings. I know it isn’t a drug issue, but would this be an issue for enlistment?

  45. NCCM(ret) says:

    Christopher,

    Not sure what forum is putting that out – it is a local program waiver that the Commanding Officer can grant – it may be a local policy to the district that person may be familiar with, but I have not heard of any nationwide waiver stoppage for marijuana use.

    The holes in your ears would have to be closed to the point you cannot see through them.

  46. Adam says:

    Adam,

    I am almost finished with my AS in Computer Programming & I really want to join the Navy but I have experimented with drugs in my past. I’m going to be honest with my recruiter & take responsibility for my actions but I don’t waste my time or theirs if there’s no chance I’ll be accepted. So my question is if I have experimented with marijuana (2), methamphetamine (2), ecstasy (1), cocaine (3), & took some pain pills will I automatically be disqualified? I have not done any of this in two-three years & did all of this in about a 6 month span when I was 21 & I’m currently 24. I’ve worked for the some organization for 8 years & lived responsibly on my own since I was 21, I know it was an irresponsible thing to do but since then I’ve displayed much more maturity & responsibility in my life. I really appreciate your time & help in this matter.

    Thanks

  47. NCCM(ret) says:

    Adam,

    Navy Recruiting Command is not currently considering the waiver required with your prior aggregate drug usage.

  48. sean says:

    1 mip charge for drinking, one theft charge for stealing a movie at a Safeway, no charges for selling or being under the influence of marijuana with the law. Am i eligible to be a SEAL?

  49. NCCM(ret) says:

    Sean,

    As long as you are otherwise fully qualified, you would be eligible for waiver consideration.

  50. Tera says:

    I smoked marijuana once about a year and a half ago. I was maybe 15 or 16 at the time. There were no charges, arrests, court, nothing of the sort. I heard that no waivers whatsoever are being given out though. So am i banned from enlisting due to that one incident?

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