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Navy Enlistment Policy for Prior Drug Usage

Navy Drug Waivers

Updated: October 13, 2017

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.

Applicants with pre-service conduct waivers (drug, alcohol, or criminal) are disqualified for overseas assignment for their first duty station.

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.”

Drug testing while in the Delayed Entry Program (DEP):Current policy per COMNAVCRUITCOMINST 1130.9L, released on October 20, 2014, the drug test for drugs such as cocaine, marijuana, and methamphetamines will be given at your 30 day and 24 hour DEP recertification completed before boot-camp; additionally, the commanding officer of the Navy Recruiting District can order up to three additional tests at his/her discretion (random). You will again be tested within 24 hours of arriving to boot-camp.

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

MAJOR UPDATE: effective immediately (July 16, 2015), the Delayed Entry Program Non-Instrumented Drug Testing program (NIDT) has been eliminated. Drug testing in the Navy DEP will no longer take place. The rules for a positive drug test at MEPS and at boot-camp remain the same ā€” it you are positive for any illegal drug, you will be discharged immediately ā€” no waivers authorized.

2,506 Responses to “Navy Drug Waivers”

  1. NCCM(Ret) says:


    Of course tell your recruiter. You must then update your MEPS physical to include the usage (it is an administrative thing, and unless you had other related issues during your physical, it should not be a problem). Then, once that is updated if a program waiver is required for the job, then the program waiver must be completed. It is best all that is done before you meet with the investigator.

  2. Eric [Last name redacted for privacy] says:

    Here goes. Retired 30 year CMC with a 22 year old son. He of course applied for the Navy MA rating. Proud dad. He popped at MEPS…I believe he raised his hand on his 18th birthday. For adderal. His sister’s script. I’m on it, my daughter’s on it…why I thought he wouldn’t need it I don’t know. It’s been four years. He’s NOW got a prescription for adderal…because he’s ADHD. He needed it…I asked…to pass his senior year so he copped a few pills from his sister come test time. Bottom line…can he submit a waiver…he’s completely clean of all drugs other than required ones…and always has been…and be issued at least an option to enlist? Good kid…using his sister’s meds to graduate high school and now the very drug that disqualified him is a prescribed medicine. Did 30…CMC in four different commands and tossed a ton of druggies out. Was he wrong? Yes. Should I have noticed or thought about why the rest of us were ADHD and he wasn’t? Absolutely. Just asking if there is something that can be done. He knew since he was 6 he was joining and this has truly hurt him. Just asking. Thanks.

  3. NCCM(Ret) says:


    If he failed the MEPS drug test, he is not eligible for waiver consideration for the Navy. The other branches might consider it, but the Navy will not — no exceptions.

    I wish I had better news.


  4. Tonya says:

    Hey, In 2013 I went to MEPS and failed my drug screen. This is well over four years ago and I read that I can never go back to the military. But recently I seen that the military is accepting waivers for these situations. But in return I haven’t smoked since then because I was in college and had an experimental encounter and didn’t like it so I quit. In my favor and favor for the Navy I scored a 82 on my ASVAB, and I now have a bachelors degree and want to serve in the Navy as an Officer. What are my chances to be granted a waiver and enlist by the end of this year Or if not the navy any other branches. Thanks in advance.

  5. NCCM(Ret) says:


    The Navy is not considering waivers for anyone who failed the MEPS drug test.

  6. Lilly says:

    Recently my boyfriend had a very unfortunate, stupid, and devastating run-in with the law. He was charged with 0<28 grams of marijuana, and CS Category 3 <28g [One Xanax pill]. He also on his record was once banned from an air force base when he was 17 for a period of four years, for being in possession of Marijuana as well. One of the many problems is that sadly the night before this happened we had gone out together and bought an ASVAB book and we were going to start studying together. He is going to hopefully enter into, and complete a pre-trial diversion program for the recent charges which allows his charges to be dismissed and immediately expunged upon completion.

    Now, I'm not asking about immediately, I'm asking maybe a couple of years from now when he has some college under his belt, and maybe some years behind him, will he ever be eligible for any branch military service again–Navy, Army, National Guard, Marines, Airforce?

    He plans to obtain an EMT associates degree from a local college, and after a year or so his charges will be non-existent in the civilian world, I'm just so desperate and wondering if there is any hope to realize our dream.

  7. NCCM(Ret) says:


    Currently, the Navy in not considering Major misconduct waivers (he has at least one of those with the possession of Xanax); I do not know whether they will be once again is two years time. Additionally, any history of an adversely adjudicated drug offense renders him completely ineligible for any Navy medical program — no waivers authorized.

    For the other services, he’d have to ask them.

  8. Tyler says:

    Hello, I have used marijuana three times and completely regret it with absolutely no intention of ever doing the substance again. There is no record of me doing the substance and I have no record whatsoever. I am going to tell my recruiter because I am no liar and uphold the truth. I have two questions, 1) Will I get a waiver? If so, will I be bared from any potential jobs? 2) Will this affect me getting special security clearances in the future? P.S I plan on enlisting in the navy and have an ASVAB score of 82

  9. NCCM(Ret) says:


    You would not require a general enlistment waiver for the usage you mentioned, but you may require a program waiver for a number of ratings. The only rating that any use of marijuana stops you from entering is the Mineman rating — the Master at Arms rating used to ban prior usage, but they will allow program waivers as of May 2017.

  10. Tyler says:

    Thank you for the reply. The marines mean a lot to me and I would hate to have a, regrettable, experience hinder my future in the military.

  11. steve says:

    Hello. I have a 95 ASVAB score and was in DEP for Nuke. I took a pill from a friend that I thought was an over the counter pain pill got sick and ended up in the emergency room for a couple of hours. Dr. called it a cardiac event and I was positive for cocaine. Clean record besides this one incident. I have 4 years NJROTC and an associates degree. I told my recruiter everything and gave him medical records. It took two months before he told me I was out for one year. So my questions are, Any way around the 1 year ? Is it one year from the date of use or from when he took me out of DEP ? What are my chances of a wavier ? thank you.

  12. NCCM(Ret) says:


    There is no way around the one year minimum waiting period from the date of use. There is no waiver authorized for anyone with a history of even a single use of an illegal drug for the Nuclear Power Program, so you would have to decide on another rating/program if your DEP discharge and drug use waiver is ultimately approved.

  13. steve says:

    Thanks for your response. Do you have any experience with waivers? With a 95 asvab other wise clean record 4 years NJROTC 2 years college and good work record. Is a DEP discharge and drug use waiver likely are a long shot? Thank you

  14. steve says:

    one last question, When honorable discharge will the DEP discharge and drug use waiver info show up in my records for civilian employment ?

  15. NCCM(Ret) says:


    Whether they will find the DEP discharge will depend on the level of background check the civilian employer orders.

    To the waiver, I have interviewed many applicants over the years while an NRD Chief Recruiter during their waiver process; in your case, if you insisted that the whole incident was benign, and that you were given the illegal drug by a friend without your knowledge, I would be asking to see the police report where you wanted your friend charged with a crime. The, “well, it was my friend” rule would not fly with me. Always be truthful, of course, but make sure you are ready to explain your actions and what you learned from them.

  16. Al says:

    Hey NCCM,

    Just some background and a few questions. I used marijuana fairly heavily from late 2011 to early 2014 when I was in college, and haven’t touched it since. I also used LSD once in that timespan, and adderall without a prescription three times, the last time being in October 2016. I don’t plan on ever touching drugs again, but would these disqualify me from enlisting? And if not, what about with specific rates such as SW or IT? And would these be a hindrance in gaining clearance, especially with regards to the latter? I would like to know my chances going in, if I am indeed allowed to do so.


  17. NCCM(Ret) says:


    The drug use waiver is possible for general enlistment. You would require a program waiver for the IT rating. For the Steelworker rating, a separate program waiver would not be required after the waiver for general enlistment; however, the SW rating does not come available very often.

  18. Ashley says:

    Hello! So I went to MEPS this weekend and I had smoked marijuana about a month ago and I admitted to it beacuase one, I was scared it would pop up on the drug test. Two, I was trying to be honest. Now I now have a waiver for it, and they are making me wait for 30 days until I can try again. I passed my drug test at meps, I passed everything except the talk with the doctor because he thinks im addicted to marijuana since I told him I had smoked in the past 2 years at least 15 times. Iā€™m personally not addicted to marijuana. I wanted to give back to my country. What are my chances of getting a good job in the Navy now since most jobs dont allow drug waivers for them?

  19. NCCM(Ret) says:


    Drug use waivers are routinely approved for the mild useage you describe. Either he doesn’t believe your story, or there is something else. The drug test results would not be known when the doctor does his final interview with you — it takes anywhere from 3-4 days for the results to be returned from the lab; when did you hear that you passed the MEPS drug test? No idea why you have to wait 30 days for anything you described. I suggest you discuss the next steps with your recruiter because something sounds amiss in how you are explaining it.

  20. steve says:


    Is the fact that i was seen in the emergency room for cocaine use an added problem when seeking a wavier ?

    Thank you again for you help.

  21. NCCM(Ret) says:


    Depending on the medical records, you may also be medically disqualified and require a medical waiver. When waivers are considered, they look at everything.

  22. Mal says:

    During my Freshman year of college in 2011 and 2012, I received two Minor in Consumption charges for alcohol. I also smoked marijuana two years ago (2015). I have no dependency to alcohol or marijuana as it has been two years since I have smoked marijuana. Can you give me any information regarding enlistment for the Navy for June of 2018?

  23. NCCM(Ret) says:


    Minimally, you will require an alcohol abuse waiver to enlist because you have two alcohol related offenses. With that you may also require a drug use waiver depending on the amount of marijuana you had consumed. Both waivers with the minimum information you provided, as long as you are otherwise fully qualified, should not be a problem.

    If you are hoping to leave for boot-camp in June 2018, you need to see a recruiter ASAP. Those out-months are already filling up.

  24. Al says:

    For starters, I thank you for taking the time and effort to answer all these questions people ask.
    About myself: I am an intelligent, female minority from a single parent household (if this helps my case) who wanted to join the NROTC as Navy Nurse after high school. Long story short, I made many poor decisions in my late teens/early twenties, but nothing leading to a record/arrest. I have since straightened up my act and am considering several career paths, one being with the Navy..
    If I were to be fortunate enough to have my past drug use waived by COMNAVCRUITCOM(N32) with the self-admitted offenses being 1) marijuana use 101 times or more and 2) Six or more instances of other illicit drugs (more than two years ago), would the NROTC Nurse program be an option? I do not believe so as this is an officer position.
    If not, do you happen to have some examples of what my choices would be for waiver-approved jobs?
    If accepted by the navy, I would not be picky as to my rank and would be grateful for the opportunity to serve.
    Thank you!

  25. NCCM(Ret) says:


    Prior experimental use of marijuana can receive a program waiver for Navy medical, nuclear power, and warrior challenge programs, but illicit drug use other than marijuana cannot. Program waivers for other program/ratings/designators may be possible.

  26. Andrew says:

    Hello I have a friend who is interested in joining the Navy but he smoked only once but it was part of a joint of marijuana, can he still qualify for the Navy? Thank You

  27. NCCM(Ret) says:


    A single experimental use of marijuana may require a program waiver for certain ratings and programs, but it would not hinder him from general enlistment.

  28. Tay says:

    Hello, I am currently in a situation where I received a letter a of separation process due to positive drug test. What led to this was a inhalation of vape pen of a friends that I believed to be nicotine and came back as thc oil. Is there anyway advice or paths i should take as in requesting a review board or hearing in the chances i will be given restrictions amd not be fully discharged?

  29. NCCM(Ret) says:


    If you are on active duty, you can plead your case at NJP (or, you may request a court martial — check with the JAG).

    If you failed the MEPS drug test, there is no appeal. The only thing you can do in that case is hope a branch of service will consider a waiver. The Navy will not entertain a waiver for a positive MEPS drug test — the other branches might.

  30. Tay says:

    Thank you for your response, however, it was not a MEPS test, it was a regular random testing, through my NOSC. Is it possible for me to request Court Martial and/or check into transfer of branches if service? I am currently already past bootcamp and am actively working through my reserve contract.

  31. NCCM(Ret) says:


    I recommend that you contact a JAG officer to ask about your options. In my time, I have only seen one case of a positive test that a person was able to stay — the person who delivered the illegal drugs without the person’s knowledge was arrested and charged with doing just that. As I recommended, talk to a JAG.

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