The Army's Leaky Drug Screen


A Colorado high school student reports that a U.S. Army recruiter "helped him buy a product to cleanse traces of marijuana and psychedelic mushrooms from his body." A recruiter in Ohio tells The New York Times that "when enlistees tested positive for marijuana…recruiters coached them to drink gallons of water before visiting military doctors." This is supposed to be a story about slipping standards, but it's encouraging that recruiters understand people who have used illegal drugs can still be trusted with automatic weapons and grenades. I mean, it's not like they're selling ceiling fans at Home Depot.


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  1. I’ve said it once, I’ll say it again.

    UNEQUIVOCALLY, military recruiters are the most depraved group of degenerates.

    I did 6 years in the Marines, so some of the problems we faced weren’t as bad. For example, the Marines don’t really offer shit at the enlisted level for college money (at least compared to the Army or Navy), so the average recruit for the Marines is generally a little more enthusiastic and gung-ho about the enlistment process. And generally, that implies the recruit will be more qualified for military life, have fewer limiting qualities and therefore require less fudging of their records.

    That said, the NY Times story doesn’t even know the half. If people knew how many of their service members had asthma, they’d run for the hills.

  2. I didn’t learn this from my recruiter. I had to wait until I was in the Coast Guard to learn this. Hey, when you find bales just floating around off of Haiti, it’d be a shame to destroy all of it.

  3. Can we get a “don’t ask don’t tell” policy for drugs in the military?

  4. This is nothing new for recruiters. Was in the Marines from 83-91.

    As I was signing up he was asking, “if you’ve smoked any pot make sure you drink this the day before and then lots and lots of water before you test.”

  5. Did anybody see the Joachim Phoenix movie “Buffalo Soldiers”? I have a friend who was stationed in Germany as an MP in the late ’80’s and yeah, the drug-dealing black market shit was pretty right on. According to him, less than ten percent of all the bullshit that goes on in the barracks ever makes its way outside the Army.

  6. I also recently spoke with an old Marine buddy of mine who told me that half of his new unit is on steroids.

    The policy for the Marines is that they only test for steroid use if they suspect you of use. The general urine test they give every 5 seconds doesn’t test for steroids. Well, what criteria do they use in their “suspicion”? They don’t really say, to the best of my knowledge.

    I think it’s ultimately the commanding officer’s decision if he suspects a Marine of abuse, but that can be affected either way by the top enlisted around him. Given my experience, they are either a) unable to detect the problem or b) unwilling to admit there’s a problem. When you have a unit full of “horse Marines”, why would consider that a problem? This is an organization whose warrior ethos is centered around testosterone, so the repudiation of it seems unlikely.

  7. When I enlisted in the Army back in ’81, the recruiter asked if I had ever tried drugs. I said that I had had a few drags off of some joints now and then. He corrected me and advised that I should answer that “I had once had a puff of a marijuana cigarette” if anyone asked.

  8. I’m also a former jarhead(97-03), and agree that this is nothing new. We used to have a saying: “There are two types of Marines-drug waivers and liars.”

    And I saw more drug use in the barracks than in college, or anywhere else for that matter. I could tell stories, but I don’t think the statute of limitations has run out.

  9. Yeah, when I sold my soul… I mean enlisted, back in 85, my recruiter handed me a laminated form to fill out (in grease pencil). When I finished, he handed me the actual form and a pen and said, “You don’t have asthma or any other health conditions, you’ve never used any illegal drugs. Change what you filled in here, here, and here”.

    Doing drugs in the Navy at the time didn’t happen best I could tell. Zero tolerance and piss testing was still pretty new, (so methods of avoiding detection were not well known) and filling the ranks with warm bodies was never easier (so they really meant zero tolerance).

    Because pot was the easiest to detect (get high once and you could pop positive two weeks later) and because we were able to purchase them at one-third the cost to civilians, I switched to cigarettes. Took me fifteen years to kick the nicotine habit. Fucking eh.

  10. Warren – yeah, that makes a lot of fucking sense. What a bunch of morons. You had to switch to something that doesn’t chill you out or help you enjoy yourself and actually does some harm, for what reason again? What is the horrible thing that MJ does to people? I can never remember. Oh yeah, it doesn’t do shit that’s bad to you! Now I remember!

    Well, with the military reporting they’re only filling 85% of their recruiting target, it’s no wonder they’ll take dopers.

    Too bad the rest of government and society can’t realise what Jacob said: “…it’s encouraging that recruiters understand people who have used illegal drugs can still be trusted with automatic weapons and grenades.”

  11. I mean, it’s not like they’re selling ceiling fans at Home Depot.

    Nice point! One day when walking into a Home Depot, a greeter was handing out job apps. When offered, I asked, “I understand Home Depot is a drug free work place, is that so?” She was giddy with excitement as she said it was most definitely the case. “Too bad,” I said, “sounds like its real boring here.” I think I rather enjoyed that frown she gave me.

    That said, the NY Times story doesn’t even know the half.

    Agreed, but it amazes me, all they need to do is interview a couple of high school seniors and they can get half of it!

  12. recruiters understand people who have used illegal drugs can still be trusted with automatic weapons and grenades

    Yet the rest of us can’t even be trusted with a concealed revolver in most states.

  13. Thoreau-
    You’d be a lot more trustworthy vis a vis deadly weapons if you’d smoke some pot to mellow out first, duuuuuude.

  14. What is the horrible thing that MJ does to people? I can never remember. Oh yeah, it doesn’t do shit that’s bad to you! Now I remember!

    It affects your memory.

  15. 🙂 Nice one!

    Now what was I saying?

  16. Where’s the link to the story about the Colorado student?

  17. When I was in the Air Force (95-2000-[1 year waste in the Reserves]), I was shocked at the stuff that went on in the dorms. I had a buddy that would save all his leave so that he had 30 days, and would smoke up the first two weeks, and spend the next two sober. The alcohol problem in the military is huge; there was nothing to do in the Air Force co-ed dorms at Dover but drink and have sex, and damn if both didn’t happen all the time. Not a good thing to have hung over electricians fixing airplanes (I speak from experience).

  18. As a currently serving servicemember (Navy – I see the drug policy of themilitary as complete hypocracy. On the one hand the senior guys’ll tell you about port calls in the Phillipines (and elsewhere) and then turn around and tell you that if you drink to excess, do drugs, or whore around you’re a filthy despicable human being who’s ruining his life – yet these are the exact same things these guys did when they were younger.

  19. From my limited experience in the Navy (3 years active duty) I’d say that until you’ve made it into (at least) the occupational training part of your military career, you’re mainly dealing with the lower echelon of the brain power the military has working for it. It seemed to me that the guys who were recruiters or wanted to be recruiters were usually guys who just wanted to go back to their home towns and sit on their asses for a couple of years. And I’d hazard a guess that the guys running the boot camps probably weren’t going to be teaching at the War College on their next duty assignments.

    Also, there is quite a lot of washout that goes on in the first few months, particularly in boot camp. I don’t know if the military tracks how many washouts come from which recruiter, but I would hope if some recruiter is sending forward a bunch of ill-suited hopheads for service, he might get a little negative feedback down the line. But who knows, certainly not me, anyway.

  20. Too bad you guys missed all the good old days in Nam in the 60s. Tracers are really cool-looking after a doob or two. I don’t recommend smoking a joint before going on a hump, though. It makes your gear feel much heavier, and the heat seems hotter, somehow.

  21. Actually Doug, only pretty gung-ho types go for recruiting and recruit comapny commander duty. The hours are long and pressure to meet goals is incredibly high.

    Those high recruiting goals are exactly why recruiters are willing to overlook/help out drug using applicants who are otherwise qualified ( in addition to downplaying the more unpleasant aspects of service, like toilet cleaning) – they’ve got to meet their quotas and this is one of the places that shortcuts can safely be taken.

    The other is fudging the race statistics – I’m as white as Wonder bread, speak about two words of spanish (after living in southern Arizona for most of my life) yet the Navy thinks I’m hispanic.

    Navy, its not just a job – you can quit a job.

  22. Well then things have changed since I was in. Being a recruiter used to be regarded as a sort of a two year vacation with pay. I got out in 1978 so what do I know anymore.

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