A pro-medicalmarijuana group says a large-scale marijuana bust that law officers here touted as a major success this month, was instead the persecution of a terminally ill man who needed the drug to help ease his suffering. Patients and Families United, based in Helena, blasted the bust and said it would not stand up in court thanks to Montana's three-year-old Medical Marijuana Law. The group c r i t i c i z ed law of f i c e rs for making a terminally ill man's last days miserable because of the worry that he would end up in prison. "It amounts to persecution of somebody who's already so overburdened with a medical condition that no one should have," said Tom Daubert, founder and director of PFU. Daubert said his group will help with the legal defense for the man, whose name has not been released by officials. Law officers from Beaverhead County and the Southwest Montana Drug Task Force last week were trumpeting the seizure of 96 marijuana plants from a mobile home north of Dillon. They said the sophisticated growing operation was meant to keep a steady supply of marijuana coming, with plants at all stages of development. They said the marijuana's street value could be up to $153,000. Blair Martenson, regional director for the task force, refused to comment specifically on PFU's contention, saying only that officials were pushing ahead with prosecution. "What we have to say will come out in court," he told the Montana Standard of Butte in a story Sunday. Daubert said the man targeted in the investigation is suffering from a horrific disease. He would not specify what it was to protect the man but said it is a rare degenerative disease that is always fatal. Daubert said if the man is taken into custody, Beaverhead County taxpayers will be on the hook for medical care that costs a staggering $136,000 a month to keep him alive. Daubert said assertions that the operation was too large to be for one patient's use are bogus, because each individual patient in need of medical marijuana requires different quantities. "It is not possible on the basis of the number of plants involved to categorically claim that the growing was for anything other than personal use," he said. Daubert promised a "vigorous" legal defense of the man. He said although the quantity of marijuana seized far exceeds the one ounce allowed under state law, the group will use an affirmative defense to prove that he needed the quantity for his medical needs. "This will be potentially a major precedent-setting case in Montana," he said.