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Navy Waiver for Positive MEPS DAT

Navy Positive MEPS Drug Test Waiver

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Published: March 26, 2021
Updated: March 26, 2021

It was about 16 years ago that the Navy initiated an enlistment ban for any applicant from any branch of service who failed the drug portion of the MEPS Drug and Alcohol Test (DAT). The DAT test is administered to every applicant processing through MEPS for their initial physical. After the Navy, eventually, the other branches of service followed suit. All the way back in 2005, the ban was instituted for those who tested positive for drugs because of the high in-service discharge rate for those who had recieved a DAT waiver.

The Navy, effective, April 1, 2021, will lift the ban on enlistment for those who previously tested positive for marijuana (if the failure was due to ANY other drug, the ban remains with NO waiver authorized). The lifting of the ban will be for a two year period. During that period, data will be collected to ensure the Navy does not have to reinstate the ban for the same reasons it was created in the first place. The applicant will require a waiver for enlistment, and the waiver must be ultimately approved by Navy Recruiting Command (NRC).

The steps and documentation required for consideration is the following:

  1. A minimum of 90 days must have passed from the date of the positive DAT.
  2. The DAT result after the 90 days had passed must show a passing result.
  3. The applicant must submit a written statement explaining the circumstances around the marijuana usage.
  4. The applicant’s MEPS physical must be fully cleared and not considered as drug dependent.
  5. The local recruiter will complete an enlistment application with all required documentation.
  6. The local Navy Talent Acquisition Group (NTAG) commanding officer must provide a positive endorsement which describes the applicant’s potential for further service.
  7. The waiver documentation will be forwarded to the Region headquarters for an endorsement.
  8. Navy Recruiting Command will then consider the waiver upon receipt from the Region.

So, understand that this is not a fast process. Do not expect to walk into your local Navy recruiting station and be able to join and ship to boot-camp with in a week. It will take time! And, as you should expect, if the one fails the MEPS DAT Test a second time, the ban on enlistment will continue!

Over the years, I had countless inquiries about the enlistment ban. I held out some hope that someday this opportunity would once again present itself; frankly, I doubted it would ever happen. I am happy to hear a waiver is once again possible.

Don’t screw this opportunity up!



30 thoughts on “Navy Positive MEPS Drug Test Waiver”


  1. Kp says:

    Am I correct in assuming this is for MEPs failures and first enlistment terms? I’m prior service army and was told by navy recruiting there are no waivers for prior.

    Adding your first comment for context: “I was given a general under honorable for weed on UA and as far as I know an R3 code. That was in 2017, do I have a chance with the navy?”

  2. NCCM(Ret) says:

    KP,

    No, the drug test waiver is only for those who failed the MEPS DAT for MJ, but that doesn’t mean they may not entertain it. I do not think the likelihood of your waiver being submitted for consideration is very good, but if you indeed have an RE-3, I suspect and RE-3J, then maybe? If it is an RE-4, you are not eligible at all.

  3. RW says:

    Any knowledge as to what ratings may be unavailable for someone applying through this DAT waiver program?

  4. NCCM(Ret) says:

    RW,

    The DAT waiver by itself would not exclude you from any additional jobs.

  5. RW says:

    Thanks Chief! Appreciate the response and the wealth of information on your site. Helps a lot for all future and current sailors.

  6. BN says:

    Good evening,
    Can you clarify the DAT waivers and those that passed a drug test at MEPS but then fail at Basic for Marijuana? Is there even a chance for a waiver with a re-enlistment code 2C? The precious branch was Air Force reserve and the commander put on the discharge Erroneous Discharge with the re enlistment code 2C.

  7. NCCM(Ret) says:

    BN,

    An Air Force reenlistment code of RE-2C is equivalent to a Navy RE-4, and likewise ineligible for waiver consideration. To have any shot at all, you would have to have your RE-Code upgraded to one that can receive waiver consideration (if the policy at the time allows it for a positive MJ at boot-camp).

  8. BN says:

    Thanks for clarifying. All the codes and wording are confusing. So, the way I read the chart you attached, Army is his only chance at this point unless I’m reading it wrong again. How do you upgrade the RE code? He is working with a Navy recruiter now which has sent his information to Meps but not received a response yet. Thanks again for your help!!

  9. NCCM(Ret) says:

    BN,

    He would have to petition his branch of service to upgrade the RE-Code. It would be up to him to prove they gave it to him in error. Really steep hill to climb because based on why he was discharged, it doesn’t sound as if the RE-Code was wrong.

  10. JA says:

    Is a SR that failed the urinalysis and was notified while in the 5th week of being in RTC Great Lakes eligible for this waiver?

  11. NCCM(Ret) says:

    JA.,

    If you received an RE-4 (of if the positive was for anything other than marijuana), then a waiver is not possible; otherwise, a waiver might be possible as they are currently allowing waivers for a positive MEPS DAT. You would need to ask your local recruiter whether or not you would be eligible for consideration.

  12. E says:

    Would failing the initial test affect the possibility of getting into the Nuclear rates assuming a waiver is granted?

  13. NCCM(Ret) says:

    E.,

    Failing the MEPS DAT would indicate use, and the Nuke program will not entertain a waiver for any applicant with marijuana use within the past six months. So, it may be possible to receive consideration after six months post the failed MEPS DAT.

  14. Leslie77 says:

    I know a waiver wouldn’t be positive for anything other than marijuana. But is it possible to fix a false-positive on opiates? I know it’s a long shot but if I have navy recruiters backing me up what do you suggest?

  15. NCCM(Ret) says:

    Leslie,

    No, it is not possible. The ability to waive a positive DAT came from outside of Navy Recruiting Command, and that ability came with the stipulation that only a positive marijuana failure could be considered.

  16. NCCM(Ret) says:

    Leslie,

    Additionally, due to the number of times and thresholds used during the testing of a sample at the lab, they will fully rely on those results — it was not a false positive.

  17. Kyle [Last name redacted for privacy] says:

    One thing to also mention is the applicant will have do do another waiver from the CO for particular jobs. My son failed his first drug test. It was because I gave him CBD oil. I also did a drug test here in my local town after finding out and it was due to the CBD oil. Because, I do know I have never smoke marijuana ever, and should never have THC in my blood stream. So, it cam from the CBD oil.

    My son went back to MEPS 2 weeks and he passed his drug test and and then went back to MEPS last Thursday. The jobs he wanted he could not get. Due to failing a drug test the 1st time. Those jobs all require a waiver. MA, HM and ND and GM wasn’t available. These are the 4 rates he was considering.

    Now, the fun part is to get the recruiter to submit the waiver to the recruiting CO. My son is trying to get his SEAL contract to go to BUDS after bootcamp. However, If he washes out, he will then go to his A school for the rate he selected.

    We are having a hard time to get the recruiter to send the waiver to the CO.

  18. Kyle [Last name redacted for privacy] says:

    I also forgot to mention. My son went to MEPS and he did urinalysis and then picked his job. He choose Master At Arms(MA) and then found out he was his drug came back with THC. He had to wait 2 months to go back and take another drug test, then was notified he passed. The recruiter had to send in a waiver to the CO and get is approved then he went back to MEPS for the 1nd time to select a job. He was told the jobs he wanted, he was disqualified from because of the 1st filed drug test. He would have to have another waiver completed and signed by the CO in order to qualify for those jobs. We are awaiting the waiver from the recruiter to be sent back to the CO.

  19. NCCM(Ret) says:

    Kyle,

    Many ratings require program waivers; for Master at Arms, they will not allow waiver consideration until a minimum of 36 months passes from the last marijuana use (how the THC was ingested is irrelevant). The other ratings you mentioned will allow program waiver consideration — although the recruiter can request one be forwarded, it is the MEPS Navy liaison who actually prepares the waiver for consideration. In house program waivers are considered by the local commanding officer.

    The waiver for the positive DAT, however, must go to CNRC for consideration. A program waiver cannot be considered until CNRC approves that general enlistment waiver.

    SEALs don’t have source ratings like they used to. The SEAL rating, since 2006, is now the Special Warfare Operator rating. There would not be any fall back A schools guaranteed in his contract.

  20. Katrina says:

    My SR is in week 2 of bc(arrived jan 3rd). And is now being told they will be sending him home due to failed drug test (m) what if any are his options in stopping/fighting the discharge? And what are his options for reapplying?

  21. NCCM(Ret) says:

    Katrina,

    They won’t consider a waiver at boot-camp. They will send him home. If the drug he popped positive for was anything other than marijuana, the Navy will not entertain a waiver. If he receives an RE-3 discharge code (if marijuana was the drug), technically a waiver can be pursued, but submittals are rare. He would need to ask his recruiter about his chances.

  22. Dasheen says:

    Hello,
    My son(19) would like to join the military. He has been out of rehab for over six month. He was in rehab for opioid use. He had used the drug for a few months. I thought rehab would be the best option for him. He also has ADHD medication on his RX list which had been prescribed over a year a go. His doctor tried him on the medication and it did not help him.
    I would like to know which military branch(options) he will be able to enlist in? What waivers would be needed if any for him to enlist? You’re direction is greatly appreciated.

  23. NCCM(Ret) says:

    Dasheen,

    His medical and rehab records would have to be sent to MEPS via a recruiter for an evaluation. They are going to want to know any and all specific diagnoses. The fact he was prescribed ADHD meds within the last two years would render him disqualified — MEPS would medically disqualify him, and it would be up to the branch of service to consider the medical waiver. By itself, I would not be overly concerned; however, any history of substance-related and addictive disorders are medically disqualifying. The comorbidity of the ADHD and a potential substance disorder would make any medical waiver difficult if not impossible. If he does eventually get a medical waiver, he would also require a drug abuse waiver; an, of course, if there is any history of police involvement, that would need to also be considered.

  24. Zach says:

    What jobs does a DAT fail for marijuana or recent previous use of marijuana disqualify one for?

  25. NCCM(Ret) says:

    Zach,

    Ineligible for entry into Class “A” School within 6 months of last use of marijuana for the CT ratings, AECF, IS, OS, IT, and STG. For the MA rating, you can not have any MJ use within the previous 36 months. Any history of MJ use renders one disqualified for the Mineman rating.

  26. Belle says:

    What does MEPs do for cutoffs?
    For example, what if you have 10 ng of thc detectable, and the cutoff is 15? Do they count as a fail or pass?
    I smoked a cart with a friend back in July and was probably doing MEPS in August.

  27. NCCM(Ret) says:

    Belle,

    First, and not that it matters, I have no idea what a “cart” is in this context.

    MEPS won’t know the level of THC; they will only be given a pass/fail depending on the threshold provided to the lab. MEPS will not question the lab’s result. As you read in the article, a failed DAT for MJ is possible after 90 days has passed from the date of failure. It is better to wait until you know you are clean than to have to wait an additional 90 days.

  28. Omar says:

    My grandson, Michael, has just stopped his taking his adhd medication last month for adhd as he we got him to take the 5mg of adderall prescription at the age of 16 and now he’s 20. He has already talked to an Air Force recruiter and he says 15 months of no prescription and he’d be fine but Mikey has taken a liking to the idea of becoming a Sailor in the Navy being a CTI. Say all this to say, would he need waivers or would he have to wait a bit like the air force.

  29. NCCM(Ret) says:

    Omar,

    Yes, all services are going to require a waiting period off medication before they would consider a waiver. The Department of Defense instruction currently states:

    Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder [is disqualifying], if with:

    1. A recommended or prescribed Individualized Education Program, 504 Plan, or work accommodations after the 14th birthday;
    2. A history of comorbid mental disorders;
    3. Prescribed medication in the previous 24 months; or
    4. Documentation of adverse academic, occupational, or work performance.

    The services will generally consider a medical waiver if the applicant was off the medication for sometime greater than a year — I have seen the Navy consider a waiver after one year post prescribed usage. However, if the applicant had an IEP, comorbid disorders (anxiety, etc.), or adverse work or academic issues, the waiver will not be considered.

  30. Dalton [Last name redacted for privacy] says:

    Applicants who fail the MEPS drug test are given a second chance at re-taking the test after 45 days. Should you fail the second test, you may wait 24 months for the third one at Service’s discretion. Failing this round of drug tests. but, unfortunately, results in permanent disqualification from serving in any branch of military service.


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