If you come from a marijuana-friendly state, you may wonder, “Can you join the military if you smoked weed?” First (and arguably most important), you need to know that the military is NOT lenient on the use of weed, regardless of the state you come from.
Depending on the specifics, you may or may not be able to join the military after having smoked weed. Though one thing is for sure: you CANNOT smoke weed once you enlist. Keep reading to get all the details!
Table of Contents
All About — Marijuana in the Military
The military considers marijuana and marijuana derivatives as ‘Schedule I’ drugs. This indicates that they are believed to have a high potential for abuse and create serious psychological and/or physical dependence. Such drugs are not tolerated in any of the uniformed service branches. So, the answer to, “Can you smoke weed in the military?” is a capital no.
1. Can I be waived for my marijuana use?
In the past, illegal use of controlled substances, such as marijuana, was an automatic disqualifying factor. However, today, the military has adopted a more marijuana-tolerant society. Thus, it is possible for you to get waivers for your weed usage before you enlist.
Nevertheless, this is not a green light for you to go ahead and smoke weed “one last time” before committing to service. Waivers are not guaranteed. If you want to be sure about your enlistment, it is best to avoid all substances, including cannabis.
Some branches are more tolerating than others when it comes to pre-service weed use. One case is the Air Force weed policy. In 2021, it was updated on the official webpage that pre-service use of marijuana without exposure to legal proceedings is not disqualifying in itself. Still, substance abuse, in most cases, is disqualifying.
Waivers are permitted only for qualified applicants whose pre-application drug usage was:
- Limited in frequency (below 5 times) and scope and unlikely to recur
- Did not have civil involvement other than possession
Note: If you smoke weed after the date of your interview, you are deemed to be smoking weed in the military, and this will render you ineligible for the Air Force.
2. What should I know about speaking to a recruiter about my weed use?
The important criterion is honesty. If you are honest with your military recruiter, you can ask for a waiver and still be considered for enlistment.
When exchanging with your military recruiter, always be upfront. Do not try to hide or lie about your record, especially those concerning legal issues. The military has a network to check with, including local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies to verify your profile. As such, just assume that they will know any and all information on your logs, and do NOT conceal anything!
Questions that a military recruiter may ask you:
- Have you ever used drugs?
- Have you been convicted of a drug offense or a drug-tested offense?
- Have you been physically/psychologically dependent on any drug or alcohol?
- Have you sold, traded, or trafficked illegal drugs for profit?
Moreover, it is easier to ‘remember’ the truth. You will be asked about your drug use many times throughout your recruitment process. If you lie and forget what you said the first time you lied, your inconsistency will disqualify you.
However, in any of the branches, experimentation of weed is not as terrible as distributing it or using it chronically or distributing it. In general, the less hefty your involvement with weed, the higher your chance of seeking a waiver for using it.
3. When am I definitely (100%) disqualified for using marijuana?
If you have been found trafficking, selling, or distributing marijuana, you will not be eligible for a waiver. Plus, if you have been arrested for weed-related issues, then you probably will not be able to get a waiver and be approved for enlistment.
On a different note, if you have used other narcotics and illegal drugs like hallucinogens, crack, club drugs, cocaine, and opiates, you will 100% be disqualified.
Other Things Worth Knowing
If you do get a waiver, expect to be questioned about your marijuana usage at length. At the very least, you will have to answer questions about each instance that you have smoked weed.
Make sure you are clean for ~1 year or at the minimum 30 days before you go through the MEPS: military entry processing station. If it is still in your system and shows up “hot” on screen, you will have a very low chance to pass.
You can test yourself with home drug testing kits, like the Identify Diagnostics Drug Test Cup 12 Panel & Easy@Home Instant Drug Test 5 Panel to ensure you do not lose the chance of getting into the military.
- If you are a non-habitual user, a urinal test can detect weed if you have used in 7 days
- If you are a habitual user, a urinal test can detect weed if you have used in 30 – 100 days
What if I have a marijuana medical card?
Holding a medical marijuana card does not exempt you from the military’s standard prohibition against illegal substances, as it can suggest that you are dependent on pot.
HIPAA usually ensures that your medical records are confidential, but having it cannot stop you from being background-checked.
Every month, the military’s drug test program collects up to 60,000 urine samples. Also, every year, all active military members must undergo a urinalysis at least once. There can be random drug tests without notice too. Your commander has the right to request a search if he or she believes you are under the influence of drugs.
If there are over 50 nanograms of THC per milliliter of urine at the 1st level (aka. screening level, and 15 nanograms per milliliter at the 2nd level (or the confirmation level), then you have failed the drug test.
For more on the military’s drug test, check out our other articles:
By now, you should no longer have to wonder, “Can you join the military if you have smoked weed?” Use the information we have provided here to make your judgment. If you intend to apply for enlistment soon and do use marijuana, consider stopping now. Your best “bet” is staying clean for at least a year. And remember: don’t lie. Don’t bother becoming a recruited candidate if your records show that you manufacture and distribute marijuana or have been arrested for smoking it.
I am Everett Bledsoe, taking on the responsibility of content producer for The Soldiers Project. My purpose in this project is to give honest reviews on the gear utilized and tested over time. Of course, you cannot go wrong when checking out our package of information and guide, too, as they come from reliable sources and years of experience.