What Happens If You Fail A Drug Test In The Navy?

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    The Consequences Of Failing a Military Drug Test

    I was in the navy from 1995 to 1998. As a result, drug tests and the military interests me quite a bit. When I joined it was one strike you are out. In other words, if you failed a drug test, you were kicked out of the Navy. I saw this question being asked on both cannabis websites and general-purpose websites. So, I did some research on my own, especially with cannabis being legalized in many states, to see if the Navy has evolved with the times. Unfortunately, it is still the same.

    Zero Tolerance Policy Toward Illicit Drug Use

    After research, I found out that 1995-1998 is the same as 2021. Currently, if you fail a urinalysis testNavy's Drug Policy in the Navy or US Military service, you will be kicked out. Even one joint, bong toke, or bowl can result in you getting into trouble. So, the Navy does not have to show that you abuse drugs.

    You will be kicked out of the service for a positive drug test result.

    Your commanding officer even will not have a choice if you have a positive urinalysis. He or she will have to let you go. The only chance that you would have would be if it has found that something was wrong with the test or another abnormality occurred. Some examples that could negate the results of a positive drug screen are listed below:

    • Errors (I.E. False Positives) – This happens if the CO feels that administrative errors are the reason that you failed the tests. Examples of this would be if your urine sample was handled incorrectly or it was suspected that it was contaminated. Or, perhaps your urine sample was not properly handled and there was no way for sure that the failed sample was actually yours. Another possible situation could be if it was determined that a, controlled substance, (I.E., prescription drug)that was prescribed to you resulted in a false test result.
    • Innocent Ingestion-This would occur if it was found out that you did not know you were ingesting banned drugs. (This may have happened to me when in Hawaii I passed out and woke up alone in an underground club)

    Cannabis and Military Drug Testing

    CBD OIl
    CBD Prohibited In All US Military Branches

    cannabis is strictly prohibited and you will get kicked out of the Navy if you pop positive for weed just as much if they found cocaine during a drug screening.

    Also, even though CBD is legal federally, it is illegal in the Navy to take CBD oil or any form of CBD. The reasoning for this is that CBD has a minuscule amount of THC. THC is strictly prohibited for all military members. So, it is not an excuse that the CBD you took did not get you high.

    Current News on CBD and Military

    Unfortunately, CBD is still illegal for all military members of any service.  In 2020 Tulsi Gabbard, introduced an amendment that allowed military members to use any product that contains hemp or was made for hemp. However, the amendment wasn’t successful and military members are still subject to administrative discharge if they are caught using any Cannabidiol or any CBD product.

    Drug Testing In The Navy

    Random Drug Test


    Navy drug testing both for the regular and Navy reserves is a massive undertaking and 600,000 drug tests are conducted by all military branches every month. Per US Military policy every active duty service member has to be tested at least once a year. Random drug testing is also required. So, you will have no idea when you will be required to take take a urinalysis. However, from personal experience, it will happen far more than once a year.

    NO Privacy

    If you were in any branch of military service, you most likely know this already. But for those who weren’t in active duty service, you already know that you will have to kiss your privacy goodbye. This means that you will be personally supervised while urinating. So, there is no chance that you should sneak in drug-free urine.

    Probable Cause

    Based upon probable cause, the commanding officer can require you to take a urinalysis test. Probable cause occurs when there is a reasonable basis for a crime to have been committed. And, in the Navy (I would imagine all services) the reasonable basis is quite lenient. For example, the military might think it could be considered to be reasonable to suspect that you smoked weed or other illegal substances if you show up to work 10 minutes late.

    This often happens with alcohol.

    Depending on whether you are on a ship, out to sea, or a stationed on-shore, the procedures for a drug test will be different. If you are stationed onshore you will have two hours to make it to the Navy drug lab to take the test. If you are underway or out to sea, you will still be required to appear at a set area where you will require to hand off your sample to whoever is supervising.

    How Can You Fail?

    Military Drug Test Cutoff Levels-A failed drug test occurs when any illegal substance is found to be above a certain cut-off level. For example, it would be a positive urinalysis for weed when THC metabolites are shown to be above 15 ng per milliliter.

    Disciplinary Action For A Positive Result

    The Navy Zero Tolerance Drug Policy

    As I stated, there is zero-tolerance when it comes to illegal drug use in the Navy or any armed service. So, unless you meet some of those exceptions that I listed earlier if you have a positive urine test for weed or other banned substance you will be kicked out of the Navy. So, the question to be asked if that happens is whether you will be punished via nonjudicial punishment or a Court Marshall.

    Non-judicial punishment (AKA Captain’s Mast) is punishment within your command that is considered to be serious enough to warrant a court-martial. Some of the penalties that can occur are you are confined to the ship, your pay is docked, loss of rank, etc. You can also be kicked out of the Navy under nonjudicial punishment.

    With the Captain’s mast once you are out of the Navy; you are then free to get on with your life. However, under a court-martial, you are being tried criminally under the Uniform Code of Military Justice. As a result, your punishment will likely be more severe and you can be held in a military jail after the Navy lets you go. Your CO has the option to request either if a positive test happens.

    After Separation-Discharge

    There are five types of discharges that are applicable to active-duty service members who make it out of boot camp and are on active duty.

    1.      Honorable

    2.      General Discharge Under Honorable Conditions

    3.      Other Than Honorable

    4.      Bad Conduct

    5.      Dishonorable Discharge

    Honorable and General Discharge Under Honorable Conditions are considered acceptable discharges, and with these, you will be able to most likely receive all VA benefits after separation. With an Other than Honorable, you will have limited veteran benefits and it will not look good when you’re trying to get any private or federal job.

    Bad Conduct and Dishonorable Discharge are each progressively worse when it comes to job prospects and benefits. Under nonjudicial punishment, the worse discharge that you can receive is the Other Than Honorable.

    With a Court Marshall, you can receive Bad conduct or a Dishonorable discharge. At least when I was in the Navy, people who failed a drug test were not Court Marshalled. However, at the option of the CO, they could have been.

    Final Thoughts

    The US Navy and all US military services are still in the dark ages when it comes to cannabis. This especially so when it comes to CBD oil being outright banned for all military members. I sincerely doubt this zero-tolerance policy will change any time soon. So, my general advice is that if you are going to do recreational drugs do not join any of the US military branches. And, get legal representation if the Navy drug screen shows that you have been smoking weed.


    What happens if you pop positive on a drug test in the military?

    The U.S. military has a zero-tolerance policy regarding illicit drugs, which means that U.S. Military personnel who fail a drug test will most likely be administratively separated from their service.  

    For most cases, those failing will be subject to non-judicial punishment., which means that you will not be criminally prosecuted. However, if you pop positive for weed or other illegal drugs under the Universal Code of Military Justice, you may be criminally prosecuted. (This means that you can serve jail time for failing your drug test)

    The only exceptions to the above are based upon drug lab error or other extenuating reasons. I.E., Legal OTC, or prescription medicine cause you to fail the test.  

    Can you join the military after a failed drug test?

    Yes, for those looking to join the service, at the military discretion, you might be able to join the military after ninety days have passed since you failed your drug test. One exception to this rule is that prior military service members cannot retake a drug test. 

    Can you retest if you fail a drug test?

    Active duty military personnel are not allowed to retake a failed drug test. For recruits, at the military branch’s discretion,  a drug test may be retaken after ninety days have passed since your popped positive.   

    However, if you the second time, you are permanently disqualified from joining any U.S. military service. 

    What happens if you fail a drug test at boot camp?

    If you fail a drug test at boot camp, you will be discharged, and depending upon what service you are in, you may not be allowed to join again. If you are in the Air Force or Coast Guard, you are permanently disqualified from joining. If you are given a waiver, other services may allow you to join after at least a ninety-day waiting period. 


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