Military Positive
Drug Test Attorney


Servicemembers need to be aware of the rules surrounding controlled substances that are specific to the military. The possession, use, distribution, manufacture, import/export, or introduction to a military base or vessel of a controlled substance is illegal for military members under Article 112a, Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ).

Most drug cases in the military start from a positive test on a urine drug test, also called a urinalysis, or a medical drug screening. It is important for military members to be aware of the substances that are illegal, what can lead to false positives on drug tests, and how to ensure their urine sample will not test positive on a urinalysis.

Marijuana, CBD, Hemp and other THC Products

The legalization of marijuana and the development of concentrated substances like Delta-8 means military members often have questions about what substances they are prohibited from using. In short, despite growing legality, military members are still prohibited from using marijuana or any product containing CBD or THC. Learn more about the difference between marijuana, CBD, THC, and Hemp here.

Marijuana and Cannabis

Marijuana, also called cannabis, refers to the drug produced by the cannabis sativa plant and is a Schedule I controlled substance.  Cannabis can be smoked, vaporized, applied in creams or lotions, or consumed in a variety of food products that are not distinguishable from what you would see in a grocery store. Marijuana is illegal for military members to use, even in states where it is legal.

CBD (Cannabidiol)

Military members are prohibited from using products with CBD. CBD, or cannabidiol, is a chemical found in marijuana. CBD comes in many different forms including capsules, oils, gummies, vape cartridges, and lotions.

Ingesting CBD can result in a positive THC result on a urine test or drug screen, in part because labeling of CBD products and purity of the CBD in the products is unreliable. A recent study of 84 CBD products found that more than a quarter contained a different level of CBD than the label indicated, and THC was found in almost 20%, even though the labels did not indicate the presence of THC.


Hemp can lead to a positive result of THC on a urinalysis test, and military members are prohibited from ingesting hemp. Hemp is not prohibited for civilians and is found in multiple everyday products and foods, including granola bars, crackers, cooking oils, and shampoo. Be careful to check product labels and avoid the products with hemp.

THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol), Delta-8, and Delta-9

THC is the chemical compound found in marijuana and hemp that creates a “high feeling”. Delta-8 tetrahydrocannabinol (also called THC-8 or Delta-8) and Delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol (also called THC-9 or Delta-9) are both cannabis compounds. The military drug testing process tests urine for both Delta-9 THC and Delta-8 THC and can detect which type of THC is in the sample. Both are illegal to use under the Uniform Code of Military Justice.

Positive Urinalysis

Members of every service in the military can be ordered to provide a urine sample for drug screening. Often, this happens via random drug tests, but can also be because of a number of other reasons, including a unit sweep or inspection, upon entering training, returning from leave, checking in to a new command, or for medical treatment.

The Department of Defense (DoD) provides minimum requirements and rules for the drug testing program every service must adhere to. The regulation can be found here.

How does a urinalysis work?

When your sample arrives at the lab, it goes through an initial screening test, called immunoassay testing. If the sample is negative during the initial screening test, it is reported as a negative result and the sample is destroyed. If the sample is positive during the initial screen test, it goes through confirmatory testing.

Confirmatory testing is conducted via gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS) or liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry (LC-MS). If the confirmatory test result is negative, the sample is reported as a negative. If the sample is positive at a level over the DoD Cutoff, it is reported as a positive result.

The different substances and DoD cutoff levels are found in Tables 2 and 3 of the DoD Instruction.

If your sample tests positive for certain substances, for example amphetamines or opioids, a Medical Review Officer (MRO) will review your military prescription records to determine if you have been prescribed a medicine that would explain the positive test. If your military prescription record does not explain the positive test, you could face adverse action from your command.

However, MRO review is not required for all tests. For example, MRO review is not required for positive tests for heroin. And MRO review is limited to your military prescription records, so if you have prescriptions through civilian providers or are using over the counter medications, typically the MRO will not have that information to use during their review.

Product Labels and Prohibited Substances


Supplements do not require FDA approval before being marketed and sold in the United States. Labels on supplements are also not subject to FDA approval. This means some supplements, pre-workouts, and energy drinks can have misleading, inaccurate labels. More information about the limits on the FDA’s regulation of supplements is explained here.

Military members can use this database to check the ingredients in any supplements to ensure the supplement does not contain ingredients that are banned by the Department of Defense (DoD).

There have been instances where supplements contained ingredients that led to positive results on urinalysis tests despite labels not listing any banned ingredients:

It is important to research any supplements, pre-workouts, vitamins, or other non-prescribed substances before using them to ensure your career will not be negatively impacted by a positive drug test.

Frequently Asked Questions-Urinalysis and Drug Cases

What happens if I failed a military drug test?

Failing a urinalysis or military drug test can have serious consequences for your military career. Every service has a zero-tolerance policy for drug use so a positive drug test can hurt or end a military career. A positive result on a drug test can be used as a basis for administrative paperwork, nonjudicial punishment or Article 15 proceedings, court-martial, and, most often, administrative separation or involuntary separation.

Every service requires that a member who is found to be wrongfully using illegal drugs be processed for discharge. This means if you test positive for an illegal substance, there is a very high likelihood that the military is going to try to kick you out or court-martial you.

There are defenses that can be raised and limits on how the results of drug tests can be used against you. It is important that you exercise your right to a lawyer and consult with an attorney who can defend you, keep you in the military, and fight for the best characterization possible if you are discharged.

Can military drug testing result in false positives?

Yes. Every service has their own drug testing labs to test urine samples for drugs. These labs are forensic labs that must be accredited. Part of the accreditation process is tracking errors or failures to comply with proper procedures. Below are some reported instances where errors or potential false positives have occurred at the military drug testing labs:

I tested positive for a substance I have never used. How can that happen?

One way that a false positive can happen is if there is an error in the way the test was conducted. Errors in the collection, storage, or shipping of samples, as well as errors in the testing process at the lab can result in false positives. Another way false positives can occur is through innocent ingestion, where you have ingested the substance accidentally or without realizing it. Some medications and prescriptions can also lead to a positive test for a prohibited substance.

Can I ask for my sample to be re-tested?

Yes. The military drug testing labs are required to keep urine samples that test positive for at least a year in case a re-test is requested.

What drugs does the military test for?

For the Air Force, Space Force, Navy, Marine Corps, Army, and Coast Guard, all urine samples are tested for the following drugs as part of the standard drug testing panel:

  • Amphetamines (including methamphetamine, methylenedioxymethamphetamine, MDMA/ecstasy)
  • Designer Amphetamines
  • Benzodiazepines (including lorazepam, nordiazepam, oxazepam, hydroxy-alprazolam)
  • Marijuana and Cannabinoids (including Delta-8, Delta-9, CBD, hemp)
  • Synthetic Cannabinoids
  • Cocaine
  • Opioids (Morphine, codeine, heroin, oxycodone, oxymorphone, hydrocodone, hydromorphone)
  • Fentanyl and norfentanyl

Contrary to what you may have heard, the military can test for LSD, spice, and hallucinogenic mushrooms. While the standard test the military uses does not test for these substances, in certain circumstances, or just periodically at random, some urine samples are submitted for specialized testing that can detect the following substances:

The military drug testing labs also continue to develop testing for new synthetic substances, and testing capabilities can expand to incorporate different substances if there is an uptick in use or positive tests for that substance.

After my positive test, my command referred me to a drug treatment program. Do I have to go?

Every service has their own internal drug and alcohol abuse treatment programs. The Air Force and Space Force have the Alcohol and Drug Abuse Prevention and Treatment (ADAPT). The Navy and Marine Corps have the Substance Abuse Rehabilitation Program (SARP). The Army Substance Abuse Program (ASAP) serves members of the Army, and the Coast Guard has the Substance Abuse Prevention Program (SAPP).

These programs can be helpful resources for military members struggling with substance abuse issues, and they accomplish a great deal of good for military members. But completing the program will not get you out of trouble or keep you in the military if your sample has tested positive.

If your urine sample tests positive, your command will likely refer you to the internal drug or substance abuse treatment program for your branch. If you are directed or ordered to attend an appointment with a counselor for this program, then failing to go could constitute failure to obey an order and result in action against you.

However, while you are required to show up to the appointment, you are not required to answer the questions from the program personnel. You can refuse to answer any questions, including questions about whether you have used illegal drugs, how often you have used illegal substances, and whether you have a substance addiction.

Be sure to discuss and understand the limits of confidentiality with program personnel and be clear about the information that will be passed along to your command from the program personnel, before you answer questions about your drug use.

Positive Drug Test? Contact An Experienced Military Defense Lawyer

Most importantly, if you find out you tested positive for a controlled substance on a urinalysis, contact Kral Military Defense immediately to learn about your rights and options. You want to do everything you can to protect your future. Having the right team is critical.

For a free consultation, call (619) 376-6820 or use the online contact form.


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You never expect to need an attorney while you are serving in the Military. You even procrastinate thinking you can manage the simplicity of your case, because after all, you are innocent, and you think the Government will recognize that. However, sometimes simplicity is not a government characteristic and things can spiral out of control. If you are a service member and ever need legal assistance, I implore you to call an Attorney.You will want a knowledgeable attorney with a military background, extensive NLSO connections, who shoots straight and will be the sharp end of your legal sword.Stephanie Kral was my attorney through 3 years of managing my case against the U.S. Gov. and without Stephanie and her team, it would have been a nightmare. I am fortunate to have enlisted her services and had the opportunity to watch her navigate the complexities of military law. She is everything you will want in an experienced attorney for both simple and complex cases. Call them immediately!
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Kral Military Defense defends members of America's military throughout the world. We do not maintain physical office space in the traditional sense. Instead, we offer secure video and telephone consultations and meet with current clients, as needed, at home and abroad.

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