ACLU sues Middlebury over ban on salvia divinorum

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A former shop owner in Middlebury is suing the town for blocking him from selling salvia divinorum, an herb said to trigger hallucinations when consumed.

The suit was filed on behalf of James Stone, former owner of Emporium Tobacco and Gift Shop, who says Middlebury officials overstepped their bounds by banning Stone from selling the herb in his shop in 2007.

It says Middlebury singled out Stone for enforcement and violated Vermont law in doing so, since regulation of food and drugs is the purview of the state and federal governments, not towns.

The ACLU’s Vermont executive director, Allen Gilbert, said Monday towns can’t just decide for themselves to ban a substance.

Middlebury Town Manager William Finger isn’t commenting on the suit, since it’s in litigation.

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