What prescription drugs are tested by military drug labs?
Military drug testing laboraties test for the following prescription drugs: hydrocodone (Vicodin, Lortab), hydromorphone (Dilaudid), opiate (Codeine, Morphine), oxycodone (Oxycontin, Percocet), oxymorphone, benzodiazapines (Xanax, Ativan, Valium).
The military drug testing laboratories first screen each urine sample using a presumptive immunoassay screening test. Those samples that test negative for the 9 substances (possibly 10 if a synthetic cannabinoids screening is completed) are discarded and negative results are reported. Those samples that test positive during the immunoassay screening are retained and tested for the specific drug that screened positive using gas chromatography–mass spectrometry (GC/MS) instruments. GC/MS provides a quantified result that is then compared to the Department of Defense Cut-Off Levels. If the quantified result is greater than the cut-off level, the sample is reported out as a positive result.
What are the available defenses for a positive drug test for prescription drugs?
In addition to the standard urinalysis defenses of innocent ingestion, unknowing ingestiion, false positive, and drug lab/collection errors, there may be a legitimate medical use defense.
I have successfully defended wrongful use of prescription drug cases when members of the military test positive for prescription on a random urinalysis. Not I used the term "wrongful." If a member tests positive for a prescription drug, the first step is for the command to conduct a medical review for the member's medical record. Reservists are terrible about putting prescriptions in their military medical records, though the regulations require it. If the test result is from an active, valid prescription, the positive result will be reported as a valid, lawful use. However, there is some grey area with respect to prescriptions. For example, what if the medication was prescribed to the member but was"expired"? What if it was an old prescription but the label didn't have an expiration date and simply said "take as needed"? What if the prescription was prescribed to the member for one ailment (say back pain) but used for another (say sprained ankle)? What if the medication was prescribed to the member, but its use would have been physically disqualifying from further service? These types of scenarios can be defended, but they are fact specific. Remember, all UCMJ disciplinary actions and administrative separation for positive drug tests require the use to be wrongful.
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Attorney Patrick Korody spent 10 years on active duty with the Navy JAG. He is certified as a Specialist in Military Justice by the Judge Advocate General. His offices are located in Jacksonville, Florida. He routinely defends members of the Navy, Marine Corps, Coast Guard, Air Force, and Army facing charges and administrative separation based on a positive military drug test.