The Department of Defense has decided to test all new incoming recruits for a much larger list of drugs, directly citing rampant abuse among the civilian population as the reason for the switch.
The change is set to come into effect April 3, according to a Pentagon release.
Expanding the number of drugs recruits are tested for won’t be an effort the Pentagon will have to start from scratch. Rather, this new drug panel is already the panel used to assess active-duty troops.
But given the explosion of heroin and synthetic drugs, the Pentagon deems it necessary to screen a little harder.
“Military applicants currently are tested on a small subset of drugs that military members are tested on,” Army Col. Tom Martin said. “Applicants need to be aware of the standard we hold our service members to when they join the service.”
Currently, recruits are tested for some of the most popular drugs, such as marijuana, cocaine, various amphetamines and MDMA, among other drugs.
This set will soon expand to include heroin, codeine, morphine, hydrocodone, oxycodone, hydromorphone, oxymorphone and other synthetic cannabinoids and benzodiazepine sedatives.
All military applicants will have to undergo the new drug panel, no exceptions. The shift applies to recruits coming in through military entrance processing stations and also to ROTC members and officer candidates.
According to best estimates, the expansion will flag about 450 more people. Those who test positive are allowed to test again in 90 days in case there’s been some mistake. But on the second test, if positive shows up again, that person is permanently barred from any military service.
The services are allowed to be stricter, if they so choose and can bar applicants after one positive test.
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