Drug Use Increases Among Military

Thursday, 01 August 2002

Washington, DC: Despite a "zero tolerance" policy and pervasive drug testing, drug use among the military personnel has increased after a 20 year decline, according to a report in the San Diego Union Tribune. According to the paper, 17,000 people have been discharged from the military for positive drug tests since 1999.

The Navy has discharged more people (3,407) for drug use than the Army, Air Force and Marine Corps combined, an increase of 47% since 1999. The number of persons failing drug tests increased 82% in the Air Force, 32% in the Army. All together, more than 3 million urinalysis tests were given last year in the military.

Apparently there is some discretion being exercised by some commanders, who give first-offenders a second chance. According to the report, for example, 8,948 Army soldiers tested positive for drug use, but only 1,262 were discharged.

Slightly more than 1.5% of the military tested positive for drug use last year. The military randomly tests about 10% of the personnel each month. Those who fail a drug test can be dismissed through an administrative process and given an honorable, general, or other-than-honorable discharge. Such dismissals may keep them from re-enlisting, bar them from some federal and state jobs, or cause them to lose veteran's benefits.

Offenders found guilty at court-martial can face fines, the forfeiture of pay, time in a military brig or federal prison, loss of rank and a dishonorable or bad-conduct discharge.

"The U.S. military, would be better off implementing impairment testing for personnel rather than employing random and suspicionless searches of citizen soldiers' excrement," said NORML Foundation Director Allen St. Pierre.

For additional details, contact NORML Foundation Executive Director Allen St. Pierre at (202) 483-8751.