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This Practice Owner Has a CBD Conundrum on His Hands

An employee is regularly using it during working hours to deal with anxiety. How should management respond?




THE DAY HAD come to an end and Dr. Geller plopped down in the vacant front desk chair. “My day was bananas. How about yours?” he asked Monica, the office manager.


Real Deal scenarios are inspired by true stories but are changed to sharpen the dilemmas involved and should not be confused with real people or places. Responses are peer-sourced opinions and are not a substitute for professional legal advice. Please contact your attorney if you have any questions about an employee or customer situation in your own business.


Carissa Dunphy has been working in private practice optometry since 2008 and is the founder of Optician Now ( Follow Carissa on Instagram and Facebook at @opticiannow.

“Bananas. I feel like things aren’t going back to ‘normal’ like it was before COVID,” Monica replied.

The two of them sat there and appreciated the silence together. Several minutes later they both shook themselves out of it and looked around to see what they should do next. A non-eye dropper bottle caught Dr. Geller’s attention and he picked it up. “This dropper isn’t the typical type we use in the clinic.”

Monica responded, “Those are Emma’s. She administers them sublingually to help with her anxiety.”


Dr. Geller looked closer at the bottle. “These are CBD drops,” he said.

They both sat there somewhat perplexed for a minute.

“I don’t even know what to say.” Dr. Geller continued, “Is her anxiety so bad that she needs to have these drops at work?”

“She started taking the drops sometime during the height of COVID because being short-handed and working with what seemed like zero pleasant customers started to take its toll,” Monica answered.

“Has she gotten any less stressed as time has passed?” Dr. Geller asked. “Does she still feel the need to use the drops regularly?”

“I would say she uses them a few times a day, but not really any less often than before,” Monica replied. “Even though we’re past the worst of COVID, the customers haven’t gotten any more cordial and our staff remains stretched thin.”

“This is all news to me,” Dr. Geller continued. “I don’t really have an opinion about this at the moment. I should, however, talk with Dr. Rodriguez about this so everyone in our office can be on the same page.”

The next day Dr. Geller met with Dr. Rodriguez and filled her in on the conversation he had with Monica.

“Well, that is interesting.” Dr. Rodriguez added, “I’m not sure what the specific laws are on this in our state, but I am aware that some laws are being relaxed. Regardless,

I don’t think we can allow a patient to see a bottle of CBD drops at the front desk.”

“I agree, that would not be good,” Dr. Geller responded. “Whatever the laws may be, our employee manual certainly predates any of them.”

“Most definitely, and we should revisit that when we have more information. What concerns me more, though, is the root of the problem.” Dr. Rodriguez continued, “We need to put due consideration into the environment our employees spend 40 hours a week in, including being more conscious of our staff’s stress levels.”

“I agree,” said Dr. Geller. “We both care about the wellbeing of our staff and don’t want anyone to experience anxiety as a result of their work.”

The Big Questions

  • Would you address Emma about her use of CBD drops during working hours? How?
  • Does your business have an established drug policy? Has it, or will it be, updated to consider the legalities of certain drugs in your state?
  • More broadly, does your business provide any sort of consideration or benefits to your employees for their overall wellness or wellbeing?
Jeff G.
Spring Valley, CA

Is it CBD with THC or just plain CBD drops? I do the non-THC drops for my inflammation. There might be a trace of THC but nothing that will get you high. My employer is aware. No big deal. If someone were getting high then that would be a different story. Nothing wrong with a sit-down talk over these things. My bottle sits in a drawer so as to not be seen by anybody. If you are stressed at work then you need to find another job because that affects your personality when dealing with patients.

Jennifer L.
Dansville, NY

I’m not entirely sure what those drops do, but no employee should ever be impaired at work. A glass of wine relaxes me. So if I’m stressed at work can I have a glass of wine? Hell no! It’s a professional environment. If we continue to let this next generation (who seem unable to handle any kind of pressure) keep being coddled and soothed at every little bit of stress, we’re in for quite the future. Get it together folks.

Kristi K.
Mexico, MO

Medications are kept in non-patient areas in our office. CBD would be appropriate for use. THC, however, would be for after hours.

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