Substance Abuse Could Keep You from Joining

Military substance abuse marijuana
Marijuana. (Maj. Will Cox/Georgia Army National Guard)

Marijuana use is not tolerated while serving in any of the military services, but each branch does issue waivers for limited pre-enlistment use. Underage alcohol consumption also can be disqualifying, but again waivers can be granted. The only way to know for sure if you will need a waiver will be to disclose any use to your recruiter. Remember that there is no penalty or punishment in talking about your situations with your recruiter, so always check with them first!

Most services have zero tolerance for any drugs harder than marijuana. Examples include heroin, cocaine or ecstasy. You will have a drug test at the Military Entrance Processing Station (MEPS) so it's very important to disclose all use to your recruiter.

How the military deals with marijuana use is always subject to change. Although that provision did not make it into the final bill, service secretaries actually "have the authority to allow for enlistment and reenlistment with waivers for cannabis use based on the needs of the military department." Secretaries are encouraged "to use their authority as appropriate to ensure the military departments are not excluding talent from the pool of eligible individuals who volunteer to serve."

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