Written by Thomas Goering, NCCM USN(RET)
Published: July 3, 2014
Updated: February 25, 2018
MAJOR UPDATE: 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 — it you are positive for any illegal drug, you will be discharged immediately — no waivers authorized.
Ever since Navy Recruiting Command has implemented its policy of zero tolerance for when an applicant fails the Military Entrance Processing Station’s initial drug portion of the Drug and Alcohol Test (DAT), it never sat right with me. It is a policy that was originally implemented in an effort to help reduce boot-camp attrition for drugs by sending a strong message that the Navy meant business. Admirable motives, but there are flaws, and I voiced my concerns while on active duty, and well, I am bringing it up again. It still bothers me.
I am 100% for drug testing. I think the Navy, and the military as a whole, has a much better and safer work environment as compared to the time before testing and zero tolerance. But, I am also for a consistency in policy.
From Commander, Navy Recruiting Command Instruction (COMNAVCRUITCOMINST) 1130.8J – VOLUME II, Chapter 1, Section 1, pg. 3-4;
MANDATORY REJECTIONS/WAIVERS NOT AUTHORIZED:
a. Automatic Rejections. Application for enlistment or affiliation shall be rejected from any individual who:
(17) Has ever tested positive for drugs on a Military Entrance Processing Station (MEPS) drug and alcohol test (DAT).
It is clear, if an applicant fails the drug portion of the DAT at MEPS — it doesn’t matter how long ago, or from what service the applicant may have been originally processing — that applicant is barred from enlistment, and no waivers are authorized. Period.
Now, here is where it gets confusing.
If the Navy is going to take this step to send the message that drugs will not be tolerated, then the following is a serious head-scratcher;
COMNAVCRUITCOMINST 1130.8J – VOLUME II, Chapter 2, Section 9, pg. 8, Exhibit 020902;
If applicant self-admits or has received adverse adjudication for: Marijuana use while in Delayed Entry Program (DEP), Then the waiver authority is, Navy Recruiting District Commanding Officer (NAVCRUITDIST CO) (Note 3).
Note 3 states;
This requires a personal interview by the NAVCRUITDIST CO/XO. An additional review by the appropriate level authority may be required if the individual’s drug use puts them into an eligibility/waiver category. No applicant may be shipped to RTC who has used marijuana within the previous 90 days. A waiver may be granted for those in DEP; however, shipping must not occur until a minimum of 90 days has elapsed since last use.
But, that is not all! The Exhibit also states;
Positive Non-Instrumented Drug Test (NIDT) for cocaine while in DEP, Must be DEP discharged. [Then] COMNAVCRUITCOM (N32) waiver after 12-month waiting period. 2nd positive test — Ineligible. No waivers authorized.
The NIDT is an over-the-counter test kit utilized by Navy recruiting personnel to test DEP members at 30 days and 24 hours prior to shipping to RTC.
Pop positive for cocaine while in DEP, not barred until you fail a second time. What?
The person who failed the DAT test — the person who has never officially attended a DEP meeting — the person who has not completed a single portion of the PQS — this person is barred from ever having an opportunity to serve in our Navy. And, that is fine, but why does the person who has had the opportunity to officially attend DEP meetings, complete PQS, etc., have an opportunity to continue?
Shouldn’t this policy be consistent; or at least be flipped to where the person who used while in DEP is barred, and the person with no training whatsoever allowed the waiver consideration?