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Life and Death and Cannabis

Written By: - Date published: 6:08 pm, January 8th, 2016 - 124 comments
Categories: death with dignity, drugs, health, human rights, Social issues - Tags: , ,

I am taking Cannabis Oil to manage my pain as my lung cancer takes over my body. It’s sort of as simple as that really. For some people talking about dying is confronting but actually talking about it allows us to think about how it happens – it is actually as much a social event as a physical one and knowing someone is comfortable, getting good treatment and pain relief is very much part of the social dimension as the physical one.

Since I have been public about it I have received so many very very sad emails from families also wanting access. Children with brain tumours, partners in their last stages of life zonked out on morphine and wanting something less brain numbing, people with elderly parents who are suffering from terrible arthritis and can’t cope with opiates so are basically in pain constantly and unable to move etc. It really has been incredible and quite heart breaking. Many are resorting to illegal supplies and this in itself is so far from satisfactory. They have no idea what the strength of the product is or what it even has in it some of the time. In countries which allow medical cannabis these things are sorted – Doctors are trained on its use and products are tailored to kids, elderly etc etc.

I might be able to get permission from our esteemed Associate Minister of Health to access a medical product. I have to apply. This actually requires me to find a product, contact the producer, convince my doctors to support my application (which I think they will do, but they will have to jump through hoops and wouldn’t it be better if they were like US doctors – trained in the various products, able to understand them and prescribe them based on their knowledge not mine) and then meet the Ministry of Health criteria which includes that other available drugs have been tried and don’t work – not that cannabis works better!

There are three categories

  1. Pharmaceutical grade products approved already (only one product – Sativex – used for kids with seizures – is on that list)
  2. Pharmaceutical grade products that do not have consent
  3. Non Pharmaceutical grade products

It turns out very few products are classed pharmaceutical grade and I understand no USA products are despite a growing number of products now being a regular part of the USA medical system, simply because they are not required to be to enter that market. They are carefully manufactured, identifiable as to content and regulated as to quality but NZ has a criteria they don’t need to meet. So I will apply for a non-pharmaceutical grade product which is the only bite I have had re an interest in supplying NZ a product.

The criteria for that are:

  1. severe or life-threatening condition (tick)
  2. evidence that all reasonably applicable conventional treatments have been trialled and the symptoms are still poorly controlled (so not that cannabis controls them better – but that nothing else works – well you could zonk me up on morphine and make me a zombie – its still not as good however especially for the old bones).
  3. evidence that the risk/ benefit of the product has been adequately considered by qualified clinical specialists – that is, the risk of treatment with an unproven product is less than the risk of non-treatment and account has been taken of any evidence of potential benefit and weighed against known adverse effects (so the Doctors have to attest to this without knowledge or training based on my research!)
  4. patient hospitalised when treatment is initiated (wtf!)
  5. patient or guardian has provided informed consent
  6. application from a specialist appropriate to the medical condition being treated or the Chief Medical Officer of a District Health Board (but this is not full proof – and what a burden!)
  7. applicant or specialist prescriber has sought adequate peer review eg, Hospital Ethics Committee approval, Drug or Therapeutics Committee review (impossible and slow!)
  8. provision of a Certificate of Analysis, preferably from an accredited laboratory, so that the concentration of the active ingredient(s) is known (this is proving hard to get)

I am now paying for the most basic chemo drug which has been funded everywhere in the developed world, is on the Pharmac “we want” list, is so old it is now out of patent, and would be bog standard treatment for me in Australia, UK etc but I am paying $6000 per dose here –  but I can’t take cannabis?

Other families have really fallen out over the cannabis issue for sick family members. Doctors are unable to advise them and particularly doctors in children’s hospitals are very reluctant, as they do not understand these products so it is a massive leap of faith by families who want to manage their own application etc – it is a craze reversal of roles! These families are desperate to get a doctors support and it’s the cause of much friction.

Meanwhile Australian State Governments are investing in products now and getting very much into business development around cannabis and its various uses while NZ sits on its hands. I would like a referendum on the issue at the next election – and I am hoping a Bill might be sponsored to that effect  (collecting signatures is not necessary and John Key has shown with the flag – you just need a Bill). It could be run at the election to save money and my bet is it will be overwhelmingly supported.

So anyway, I don’t like to go on about me really but this is an issue impacting widely on families with sick relatives. It has been moving and stressful to hear from these lovely people and so frustrating that the system is so hard – designed that way – and so reliant on the individual to get what they need.

Anyway my next step is to put in an application. I have done the best I can but even my application is light on what the form says is needed. I assume the Ministry of Health could help if they wanted to and provide advice on these products but they just seem to be in administrative mode. Time will tell. I need to talk to my Doctors and that will take time. I may even fall down at this base. My understanding is that even if it is approved, exporting cannabis product from the States is not straight forward so I could get all that way and still not get legal access. Canada is beginning to make product which might be easier – but a person could die waiting right?

But what about the others? One mum told how her 4 year old had halved in size because he was so sick he couldn’t eat (what do kids do when they get sick – stop eating!). With cannabis he had put on 4kgs in a very short time– a life saver for him – it stimulates the appetite and deals with nausea. She was being forced to give him a product she was guessing as to its strength and full content etc and was constantly worried about getting more – ideally she would get something tailor made, integrated into the kids care and health and with as little other effects on him as possible. It is just cruel.

On the other hand – I have been taking Kytruda (the drug all the publicity is about – a break though for melanoma and has had some success with lung cancer but not with me). I have paid for is (this is what Kiwisaver will be for in the future – to subsidise our underfunded health system). It is completely experimental and the Doctors admit it – they don’t know who it works with, why, exactly how or really even how to administer it the most efficiently – but oh fill me up with it – exactly because I have nothing to lose. I have also had whole brain radiation – massively dangerous – huge side effects possible – I have been lucky – but I can’t take cannabis?

I am taking nothing really that can stop this cancer killing me, and in not too long a timeframe to be brutally honest.  It is my view that a good cannabis product will help me live the rest of my life in a better situation than I will without it.  The fact I can’t do that shows the absurdity of the whole regime.  A year ago I could have got buckets of synthetic product and there is still a system to allow that to be available – but not this medically developed product.

I think we could change this situation with a little more push – a few leaders speaking out in support, an exposure of the current system refusal by refusal and with real stories of people with real illness just wanting to live the end of their life with a bit of dignity.




124 comments on “Life and Death and Cannabis”

  1. Jakh Heremia 1

    Big ups to you Helen Kelly – best blessings and healing to you.
    RSO – Rick Simpson Oil, high THC – eat Hemp seed and flour and take Hemp Oil.


    Jakh Heremia.

  2. Anne 2

    So Helen Kelly is fighting for the rights of others to the very end.

    Helen: you will be remembered and revered long, long after John Key and his band of merry men and women have been consigned to the big waste-paper bin of history.

    • Fuck yes. My sentiments exactly.

    • lprent 2.2

      Yeah. I think that this post should stay up top for a while.

      The attitude of the government to cannabis, especially medical cannabis is completely stupid. There is bugger all to show it to be worse than the legal drugs available, and it has some clear medical benefits.

      I can’t even see any real issues with non-medical usage. Just needs some good taxation and quality controls.

      • emergency mike 2.2.1

        “There is bugger all to show it to be worse than the legal drugs available,”

        Actually there is nothing that shows it to be anywhere near as bad as the legal drugs available. Plus indications from the legalized states in the US that alcohol use has declined with corresponding decreases in violent crimes and road accidents.

        • lprent

          I was trained in science and management and work as a programmer with engineers. My decades of experience of how things fail make me view everything that is unproven by carefully planned clinical and field trials as being likely victims to Murphy’s law. Cannabis has largely had what I consider to be anecdotal trials rather than systematic ones.

          Hyping something just makes me deeply suspicious because nothing is an unmitigated good. It just means we haven’t found the real bugs yet.

          • emergency mike

            I was neither hyping nor claiming cannabis to be an unmitigated good. The claim that it has a much better risk profile than alcohol and tobacco is routinely supported by large scale studies. It is also one of the most scientifically studied substances on the planet, with it’s negatives, which do exist, looked for long and hard by those who very much wanted to find them. It’s medical safety and efficacy has been researched and trialed in Israel for years.

            Of course things can go wrong. Of course there will be mistakes, learning curves, and unforeseen issues some of which may take time to appear. But so far the reports from Colorado and Washington are that the positives are clearly outweighing the negatives.

          • mpledger

            Cannabis has long been used for medicinal reasons. It was only removed from medical use because of America’s moral stance over drug use and then they tied everyone else up with their conventions on drug use that they pushed through the UN.

            It’s not like cannabis is something coming out of the lab that is totally new and unproven.

            It’s not for everyone because it has side effects especially some contradictory side effects – most people it makes mellow but it gives some people anxiety attacks. But it’s often very heavy and very frequent users you run into trouble whereas the typical dose for medicinal reasons is below the level needed to get high.

            Sativex is a cannabis plant extract from plants with a more even balance of CBD and THC so I would really recommend talking to your doctor/specialist about that one first than going for some other cannabis medicine. It’s an easier bureaucratic process and it’s likely to be better medicine because of the higher CBD levels.

          • esoteric pineapples

            “Hyping something just makes me deeply suspicious”

            The fact that Marijuana is illegal encourages people to have unreal expectations of what it can achieve.

      • grumpystilskin 2.2.2

        However, with people such as Mr Hairdo holding the gate key. The likelyhood is next to zero in my opinion.

      • David H 2.2.3

        I agree. For more than the fact that Helen has, and is still, fighting for the rights of others. But to also show the laziness, and sheer couldn’t give a shit attitude by the Government. And if they want to line their pockets, and fill their boots, there’s a cash crop right there.
        NZ could (if we had any decent scientists left, and a govt for the people) have lead the way in Cannabis research. But as usual the Govt has chased them away along with the decent Journalists.
        I have No faith that this Govt will do anything for the ‘normal’ Kiwi that is is not forced to do, they hate us that much.
        Oh and Dunne what a waste of space, too interested in playing with his fucking comb and counting his inflated wage packet, to do his job properly.

    • Hami Shearlie 2.3

      Very true Anne, Helen Kelly is an amazing and compassionate woman – I am so proud we have someone like her speaking out for others in this way while battling for her own life!

    • thechangeling 2.4


    • David H 2.5

      “John Key and his band of merry men and women have been consigned to the big waste-paper bin of history.” Who???

      • Anne 2.5.1

        “Band of merry men” is an old-English phrase referring to a person’s supporters and associates. In this case I’m referring to Key’s political colleagues on the National Party benches including the Cabinet – most of whom have shown self-serving mindless obedience to the snake in the grass called John Key.

      • Anne 2.5.2

        Ok David H. The penny’s dropped. Duh!!!

        And apologies for introducing a sour political tone in the comment. Neither the time nor place.

    • swordfish 2.6

      So Helen Kelly is fighting for the rights of others to the very end

      Yep, much like her dad – the absolute antithesis of all the venal, mean-spirited, ruthlessly-greedy little creatures of the Neo-Liberal Right.

      You’re an inspiration, Helen.

  3. jamie prentice 3

    Its ironic at the moment, in the states, people like Warren Buffet (richest man from share trading) and many more billionaires are pumping heaps of money into the marijuana industry, so they get the returns not only in the states that are legalized at the moment but so they are in prime position when medical (same as illegal) marijuana is legalized for medical use in the states. We could do our trials here and position ourselves to be at the forefront of this but have our heads in the sand, even it was to service our own market but instead will allow the rich in the states more money of us.

  4. TeWhareWhero 4

    You are so right – it’s insane that people in your situation are subjected to highly toxic drugs and invasive procedures which may not work, often cause more harm than good and if they do work, may only extend life temporarily – and yet you cannot legally or easily access a substance that is known to ease suffering, stimulates appetite and will not cause any harm – especially if the strength and purity can be guaranteed. Almost all people in rest homes in NZ are on a maximum daily dose of paracetemol because it is cheap and, compared to narcotics and NSAIDs, relatively safe. As an analgesic for severe pain it is pretty useless and the risks of long term maximum dose are underplayed by the medical profession.

    We could produce our own medical grade cannabis oil and replace many of the harmful drugs currently used in the management of pain – and what’s stopping us? An obdurate mindset informed by propaganda created in the USA largely to discredit hemp.

    What’s very revealing is that the manufacturers of one of the biggest selling narcotics – oycontin or hillbilly heroin – are attacking people who are lobbying to get doctors to stop prescribing so much of it. They want to keep making vast profits out of their addictive, constipation inducing and mind dulling drug.

    Good luck with your application. You have my best wishes and deepest admiration. I’m not sure I could be as stoical.

  5. Tiger Mountain 5

    well done for speaking out Helen about things most people don’t want to think about let alone get active on

    I long wondered why my mother has been active in the NZ Voluntary Euthanasia Society most of her adult life–“leave death to the dying”–was my under informed initial view, but then I thought about her having devoted her middle years to caring for ancient parents and my brother with his tenuous grip on life and thought again

    while you are well is exactly the time to fight for such reforms and human rights as Helen Kelly is seeking

  6. Detrie 6

    It’s hard not to choke up reading this, knowing Helens commitment and passion to helping others. She is an inspiration to us all.

    However, stepping back and discussing the wider issue of cannibals use, be it for medical or other uses, shows the absolute stupidity of lawmakers worldwide.

    When we look at the data, the harm or deaths caused by this drug is near zero and used correctly, has proven medical benefits. It could likely be a cheaper alternative to other higher risk, higher cost pharmaceutical compounds for reducing pain.

    Yet what I find most annoying, is the other drugs, being tobacco and alcohol cost the country millions and destroy lives. Where is our common sense? If controlled and regulated, there’s business benefits too. Last week I saw an interesting article of a NZer doing well http://www.stuff.co.nz/business/75612766/biggest-cannabis-dealer-in-colorado-from-the-waikato

  7. Draco T Bastard 7

    Developing cannabis pharmaceuticals would be great for NZ.

    1. It grows here easily and fast (especially in Northland) meaning we could use it to help clean up our rivers (Well, leech out the excess nutrients in the soil above rivers).
    2. It would help develop our economy up from the basic agricultural model that National seems to want to keep us as.
    3. Cannabis and hemp have a huge number of other uses such as cloth and resins.

    Keeping it illegal and difficult to grow is basic stupidity.

    • Rosie 7.1

      Careful now Draco, you are speaking common sense with wild abandon there.

      Don’t you know that in current day NZ, simple and great ideas will be run over and mangled into the ground by the mighty tractor of stupidity.

      Yes to all 3 points. Point one would help reduce unemployment in Northland too.

    • Chooky 7.2

      +100 DTB and Rosie

  8. It is possible to get stuff under the current obsolete laws, but I and many other patients I have been in contact with feel the doctors have to be dragged kicking and screaming. We have kids where a 3rd lobe of the brain being removed is preferred to trying Medical Cannabis, Sativex or otherwise, Patients getting in contact with Dr Manuel Guzman (leading researcher worldwide on MC for brain tumors) for advice, and then being ignored by their oncologists. A good part of the problem short term is reluctance by doctors and specialists, Starship itself could do with sending 2 specialists to Colorado for a Tour of duty to pick up some knowledge, same with some pain specialists. Law change or not, more people will be demanding access, and doctors need to up their game.

  9. Manuka AOR 9

    “It is my view that a good cannabis product will help me live the rest of my life in a better situation than I will without it. The fact I can’t do that shows the absurdity of the whole regime.”

    Yes. I wish we didn’t have to feel so helpless, in the face of so much stupidity.
    My heart is sending you a big hug (I just don’t know the text / emoticons)

  10. Lanthanide 10

    Helen (or anyone else who knows) I have some questions about the cannabis if you don’t mind answering.

    1. You say you have been taking cannabis oil. How is this administered, orally?
    2. Does it give you any sort of high / intoxication?

    • Helen 10.1

      Hi. I just ingest it on my tongue. I take it at night so I am not stoned during the day but it does have the stoning component in it as that is part of its pain relief magic. There are products where this is not necessary and this component is reduced. Kids products for example may reduce this component. But for any options we need a range available here

      • Lanthanide 10.1.1

        Thanks Helen, much appreciated.

        • Shane Le Brun

          Speaking to a user of alcohol extracted cannabis tinctures, who has then gone to sativex, Sativex being a balanced blend of THC, which gets you high, and CBD which is actually an antidote for the worst mental effects of THC. He likens responsible use of his cannabis tincture to a 6/10 on the scale of getting high. where as sativex is more like a 1/10….. less than a low dose of diazepam really.

          In the California there are Sativex like mouth sprays, but with 10 Different strengths, the high CBD stuff for the seizing kids, to a mid range one like Sativex for long term use for pain, MS etc, to the high THC stuff suitable for palliative care, as it fights nausea, improves appetite and lifts the mood, improves sleep.

          PS check out our website, http://www.mcadvocacynz.org

    • sabine 10.2

      just a few question to your question number two.

      why do you want to know?
      What does it matter?
      And lastly, to you think legally prescribed opiates can give any sort of high / intoxication and would it matter?

      I hope you don’t mind answering.

      However this is a good read in regards to recreational marijuana and medicinal cannabis.


      and many more can be found here


      • Lanthanide 10.2.1

        1. Knowledge is power
        2. Seems like ‘getting a high’ might be one of the silly reasons medical marijuana isn’t available in NZ, so I wanted to confirm if ‘getting a high’ is a side-effect of this medication
        3. I don’t know, I presume so since heroine is an opiate street drug

        • sabine

          I think that someone like Helen Kelly, or seizure suffering kids, or old people with severe arthritis don’t get themselves criminalised to get high. I think that is really just a point for the sake of a point. However currently this is effectively what is happening now. The product Helen Kelly and others are using is the one sold for recreational uses (in most cases i would venture to guess) which is a. illegal and b. contains THC , and c. the patients are self medicating due to our silly reasons for not legalising medicinal marijuana. A product that is grown to contain THC, patients have to go through trial and error in finding a dose that would work for them, and one batch to next THC Level could vary greatly.
          Considering that one can get very easily high with conventional prescription drugs, i can’t see why we would have an issue with a cancer sufferer or an old lady with severe arthritis pain get a small high next to immediate pain relieve, so I see the ‘getting high’ factor as the weakest link in the refusal of accepting medicinal cannabis.
          I have posted a link above that would explain the different strains and effects. Have a look at it, as it is quite an interesting subject and should put to rest those that consider the right to adequate pain relieve less important than the illegality of the High Factor.

          Last I heard Heroin not an opiate that a doctor would prescribe you to take home for pain relieve like tremadol or such. At least I hope they don’t. 🙂

  11. Olwyn 11

    Helen, I salute the courage you continue to show under such difficult conditions, and very much hope that your application is successful. It is absolutely daft that medicinal cannabis is treated as if it were more risky than morphine, new, experimental cancer drugs and whole brain radiation.

  12. Helen, there is something uniquely strange about cannabis. It is as though people higher up contain a deep fear of it as though it was similar to cyanide. The justice system in the States put people in the can 10 years for owning a joint. Isn’t it funny how the cops go on about drink driving, alcohol related family and general violence yet Cannabis is hardly mentioned in this regard. There is something pathetically wrong with the system.
    I will be contacting my MP (even though he is a Tory) about this matter and advise everybody else to do the same thing. It is the only way to get the message through besides using the media and debating the issue with Peter Dunne. I will contact Mr. Little and hope he can actually have a positive approach in this matter and brings it up in Parliament.
    Helen, never give up. I had a life threatening disease for two years a year ago but new medications saved me after clinical trials. The same can happen with you and we shall be battling for you all the way. You’ve done lots for the average workers and now it’s our turn to return the favours. I remember an elderly Maori woman on the CMP strike during our daily protests. I asked her what she thought would happen in the long term. She said. “Don’t worry mate, Helen’s coming. Sincerely Rex.

  13. bill matthews 13

    i’m sorry you have to suffer helen, i don’t understand how dunne and co can sleep at night

  14. Thank you for sharing Helen. Although conservative in my upbringing and belief constructs I have advanced to the conviction that having access to cannabis should be decriminalised ( not quite the same as legalised). Accordingly there could be provision of suitable product for all such people as you. Every best wish and prayerful support for your journey.

    • Andre 14.1

      If it’s merely decriminalised, then it’s still illegal, and the people in Helen’s position will still have most of the same bureaucratic bullshit to deal with. They, and the people wishing to help them, just won’t risk getting tossed in the slammer if caught in possession.

      If it’s legalised, then trade is allowed and can be regulated, quality can be regulated and controlled. Most of the obstacles Helen is facing in trying to obtain something effective will simply disappear, and the main issues remaining will simply be finding out which products are actually effective. Finally, what may be the point that actually gets it legalised, it can be taxed. Thereby turning a major cost to the government into a revenue stream.

  15. EyeSpy 15

    Helen has no boundaries,,All her life she has fought for the worker, gets told she has a terminal condition and still keeps up the fight for others. It’s about time everyone got behind Helen and pushed harder to have medical cannabis freely available to those who need it the most.

  16. Rosemary McDonald 16


    Another example of the boneheadedness of our so called health system.

    (This one is personally close to home as my partner was being treated for the same kind of leukemia as this guy, when this story went to air. And yes…he takes oral Vit C…and stays well.)

    Helen… best wishes and sincere respect to you for this post. I hope you are comfortable painwise…and clearly you are not ‘zonked’.

    Like Vitamin C…cannabis has the potential to undermine the profit making abilities of Big Pharma.

    In another few years BP will have engineered a takeover…acquired ‘ownership’ of this, the ‘peoples’ medicine.

    How can we help?

  17. jono 17

    I wish my family had known about the cannabis alternative when our terminally ill loved one was struggling. Even if it was illegal we would have encouraged its substitution for the morphine and other opiatesfamily-member was stuck with and which she reacted to very badly. While the opiates sometimes masked the physical pain they multiplied and confused the emotional and spiritual turmoil of dying. She spent weeks on a roller-coaster where she was either off the planet, in a state of high anxiety or in great pain. She was hospitalised twice with accidental overdoses, on one occasion close to death.
    The final few weeks in the highly managed environment of a hospice were better, but it took a long time to get her a place there.
    Great work you are doing here as always Helen.

  18. ropata 18

    By John Key’s logic, your usage of Cannabis is the reason for all your problems and you only have yourself to blame! 🙄

    But seriously, best wishes to you and yours Helen. Thanks for your tireless and selfless efforts on behalf of ordinary Kiwis everywhere.

  19. cogito 19

    Wishing you all the very very best, Helen.

    “May the Lord bless you
    and protect you.
    May the Lord smile on you
    and be gracious to you.
    May the Lord show you his favour
    and give you his peace”.
    Numbers 6:24-26.

  20. Alexis 20

    Full support,
    Thank you so much for sharing and caring Helen.
    Much needs to be done to get freedom of choice healing oneself as one sees fit and appropriate without seeking consent and or approbation from public servants.
    Time for change indeed.
    Wishing you all the best really,
    Kia Kaha, Ka Pai, Kia Ora, Ahora Nui.

  21. Leftie 21

    Helen, my thoughts are with you and your family.

  22. Tracey wheeler 22

    Thanks Helen. Fight on xx

  23. mary_a 23

    A big thumbs up for Helen. You were born fighting for the rights and welfare of others and you will leave this world doing the same. A huge thanks of gratitude.

    Bless you Helen. Go well my friend.

  24. A great testimony I must share to all cancer patients in the world. My husband was diagnosed with stage 4 primary liver cancer in
    March 2013. The doctor told us there was not much to be done since the tumor was 7 inches covering his lower lobe and also had
    spread to his lymph nodes. We decided to go home and called hospice which gave us morphine for pain. Ed hated the morphine which
    made him vomit and also affected his mind. After one week at home we decided to do what we have done for many years, rely on
    ourselves.We were only in Hospital for 3 days with severe Pain. The cancer had blocked his bile duct, after that we choose a
    Naturopath doctor and have not had conventional treatments. one day i came across the use of cannabis oil for treatment of cancer
    and i saw a post on how a cancer patient was cured with cannabis oil. I urgently needed help and i contacted the email :(ricksimpsonoil02@gmail.com) to get the cannabis oil, i was given instructional guide on how to use it. After taking a gram
    of oil per day. Within a couple of weeks his pain and swollen stomach disappeared and with it came hope and a good quality of
    life. We never saw an ocologist and only have done a blood test after the first diagnose CT scan. His tumor marker went from over
    6000 to normal and he is feeling well. We don’t know how this is going to play out, but enjoy every day and give thanks. As i am
    writing this post, my husband is free from liver cancer and the doctor confirmed that the cancer was cured permanently. For
    immediate assistance on every medical issue you and your family may be experiencing, contact Dr Rick via email: (ricksimpsonoil02@gmail.com) for more information and the delivery process.

  25. Lyn Latta 25

    As a Nurse and someone who has worked proactively for my whole career encouraging people to seek appropriate treatment for their health over many years, I am now in a similar position to you Helen and find myself appalled that we have to jump through hoops to get what we need. I am now terminal also, and have no idea how many more months or years I may survive. That doesn’t bother me as much as knowing that I don’t want to end my life in extreme pain – who would?? Why must it b so difficult to get what we need to have a bit of quality & dignity in the end stages of our lives? As you have said “It’s just cruel”. I hope a bill can be put to the Govt to address this need with some urgency!!

    • mickysavage 25.1

      Thanks Lyn. I am certain that for many of us reading this post the discussion is having a profound effect.

  26. Jenny Kirk 26

    Dear Helen
    My heart goes out to you.
    Thank you for all you have done in the past for the workers of Aotearoa. Thank you for speaking out now about NZ’s appalling lack of commonsense in pain relief for those in great need. Thank you for being a witness for those in severe pain.
    Thank you.

    • marty mars 26.1

      + 1

      So many great comments and this one from Jenny expresses my thoughts.

      Thank you Helen and thank you again. I am overwhelmed by your courage and kindness – peace and love to your whānau, family, and friends – and every good thing to you, every good thing.

  27. Tautoko Mangō Mata 27

    Helen, you are an excellent role model with the qualities of integrity, courage, honesty and selflessness. You speak up against the powerful, on behalf of those whose employment opportunities would be compromised if they were to do so. No royal title can bestow upon its recipient the mana that you have acquired through your actions. My thanks and best wishes.

  28. grumpystilskin 28

    For those curious about Cannabis oil, here’s a link to some educational videos.
    The quality isn’t great but listen to the message.


  29. Grumpz 29

    I still use a little cannabis for pain as it is not as debilitating as the morphine, and also helps with my nausea

  30. Deidre vanGerven 30

    I think a lot of the problems that people are facing here in NZ is not so much the doctors and hospitals in NZ not doing anything but more because they just can’t. They are so underfunded by this government that their hands are really tied. The ones who benefit from this government are those who have the money and can afford to do what they want for themselves. The only way to fix things is to kick them out. Preferably to some other country.

  31. Big ups to Helen on this. And I hope every success in her quest for legal access to cannabis. (Even if a Big State Left blog is a strange place for such a libertarian post, being that the State is the problem here.)

    • mickysavage 31.1

      This is hardly a “Big State Left Blog”. And lefties are all for individual liberty.

      • Reddelusion 31.1.1

        Excuse me? two sorts of lefties

        1 Euro lefty who likes capitalism but with an 800 pound gorilla on top regulating the crap out of it, including access to cannabis oil ( big state)

        2 Communist where the state owns the factors of production ( all state)

        To deny both embarrassed lefties like to use meaningless tag “progressive” , so often difficult to know where they sit.

        • Andre

          Please, can we all show some respect to Helen and take the flamewar attempts elsewhere?

          • mickysavage

            + 1

          • Reddelusion

            Agree but I also see many post above ar quite happy to segwee to johns key without any complaints

            I do wish Helen Kelly all the best, never agreed with here politics but always respected her fight and steadfastness which she continues to display in bucket loads

        • mickysavage

          Wrong post reddelusion. Take it somewhere else.

    • Draco T Bastard 31.2

      You’re a good example of libertarians and their complete lack of thought. You assume that the state is wrong and thus will always be wrong.

  32. Rosie 32

    Helen, thank you so much for taking the time to write about how you are doing and the struggle you are facing trying to obtain medical cannabis. I had been wondering how you were, and I’m sorry to hear you are having to fight the unfairest fight of all, just trying to get some relief and a moment of peace from your pain, and being up what sounds like impossible barriers to achieving that.

    I can really only echo the sentiments already expressed by other readers. You are an inspiration to so many of us and you have my immense respect and gratitude for the work you do, and all that you have achieved in the Union movement.

    Arohanui, Rosie.

  33. greywarshark 33

    Helen I hope you get the benefits of pain relief and anything else that is good from your medication. It is good of you to put this post which may push the alive button in some one with the power to do something about decriminalising cannabis oil. It is so illogical to maintain the barriers to it.

  34. Annie Helm 34

    Surely exploring the question as a matter of ethics as stated by Dr Hardy below for saying YES to medical cannabis apply here.
    See Paul A Hardy Clinical Leader Pain Management, CCDHB Wellington
    “There is, therefore, incontrovertible evidence that cannabis and cannabinoids are effective for neuropathic pain. The cannabinoids, including
    dried plant products, are much safer drugs than drugs we currently use.
    The side effect profile is mild to moderate and can be controlled by patient
    dosing. Many people worldwide are currently using cannabis to self-medicate for persistent pain control.

    More states in the US are changing their laws to permit medical use of cannabinoids. There is an ethical dimension to this. Given that we have an available, effective treatment for a disabling condition where no other treatment
    exists, not to prescribe may be considered to be unethical, even negligent.

    Full article is
    ( https://www.rnzcgp.org.nz/assets/documents/Publications/JPHC/June-2015/JPHCB2BYesJune2015.pdf )

    This an issue pertinent for all of us, so eloquently put here by one of our brightest peoples advocate made real by Helen’s own situation.

  35. Ad 35

    Exceedingly dignified, thank you.

  36. Pillrot 36

    I support your argument Helen. It seems wrong you have to campaign for access to a pure form canibis oil that,should be medically available given its internationally recognised benefits for pain management. If the right to health is a universal human right then the right to effective pain relief for the sick should be a component of that right. Historically, our legislators have followed the suggestions and policies of America and Australia so it should be easy for the Minister to follow one of their better humanitarian leads. Government has also supported the hospitality industry, the breweries and the supermarkets to market and deliver an equally addictive drugging us, so why would they oppose the health industry to deliver effective pain relief to us should we be struck with a terminal illness? Surely, any morally generated addiction objection here is moot, when the medical alternatives are more powerful opiates with worse effects?

  37. Treetop 37

    What a frustrating situation you are in when it comes to being DENIED cannabis oil to alleviate your symptoms and the effects of treatment (radiation).

    I can see from your post that you are aiming to reduce side effects and to take a product which works for pain. You are right and those who deny the access to cannabis oil for medical purposes need to realise that cannabis oil needs to be made as available as morphine is.

    Were a study to be done on which drug has the most benefits and pain relief between cannabis oil and morphine I think that cannabis oil would be the winner.

    From what I have heard about Keytruda a tumour enlarges before it shrinks, this also applies to a lot of the newer immunology treatments for cancer.

    I was so impressed with what I saw on 60 minutes a couple years ago about IV vitamin C infusions and combining beetroot, carrot, apple and ginger and juicing it, now days there are the mega blasters which the whole product is turned into juice, (peelings are probably the best bits). I know people recommend a lot of stuff for cancer.

    I hope that your application is successful for your choice of treatment.

    • Rosie 38.1

      Yes, noticed that. All power to strengthening the message for Helen’s wish for this issue to go a referendum.

      I also want to acknowledge all the fine, elegant and thoughtful comments readers are posting. There’s far too many to reply +1 to. It’s uplifting to read the compassion and goodness in these comments, and the stories people are sharing.

      • emergency mike 38.1.1

        “Associate Health Minister Peter Dunne has said the Government will not be swayed by “emotional nonsense” colouring calls for wider access to medicinal cannabis.”

        ‘Emotional’? Sure maybe, but when you’re dying of cancer why the fuck not?

        ‘Emotional nonsense’? No.

        Politicians must be publicly shamed into change on this. Peter Dunne has thrown the odd bone on this issue lately. But the broader picture of his involvement with it is one of resistance, stalling, and dismissive put downs as above. Our minister of health is the same guy who said that the law against smoking tobacco in bars and pubs would be ignored because it was ridiculous.

        Note that Alex Renton’s parents had to organize protests at the hospital before Dunne graciously gave permission to use the cannabis oil after stalling for weeks. I recall watching a youtube video where a politician, Canadian I think, was saying that medical cannabis law reform was just ‘not a priority’. Families with sick kids who needed it confronted him in a public forum, inviting him to repeat that to their faces. His tune promptly changed 180 degrees. That’s what works, public shaming.

        And then of course there are those people who are in jail or have drug conviction that messes up their lives for no good reason. Reform for them and their families is ‘not a priority’ too.

        • greywarshark

          Objective academic commentators I’ve read (can’t quote sources) have decided that we run on emotion not rationality, but rationalise our emotive decisions.

          • emergency mike

            One thing Freud was right about. Indeed appeal to emotion is more effective than appeal to reason.

    • mickysavage 38.2

      Maybe we should all publicly declare that the law is an ass. I went to university in the 1980s (at the same time as John Key) and cannabis use was rife. I have more than a nodding acquaintance with the drug myself. When I look around the upper echelons of the Judiciary and the Law Profession as well as politics I see many who at least used to enjoy the odd spliff.

      Fair enough that methamphetamine is illegal. The stuff is evil. I would also draw the line at synthetic cannabis because the stuff is really destructive.

      But the use of Cannabis should be a health issue, not a legal issue.

    • Heather Grimwood 38.3

      to Rob at 38…….but comments at Dominion stopped this morning. Hopefully the fact will draw more attention to this issue.

  38. Aroha Baker 39

    Totally agree. Cmon govt. Make it accessible. Accept her application, and accept others as well. Its a no brainer really. Savings ones life or at least making it less painful when cancer to gets to a certain “palliative care” situation. Good on you Helen.

  39. Irene Anderson 40

    Helen you are still fighting for others even when you should totally be looking after yourself. This whole health system is sick and this is what you are up against or we are up against. But then you know that because its just another crock government department run by the biggest crocks we have had in power yet. A referendum on the cannibis alternative would be great and i am all for it but it won’t happen. I will write to my local MP to spead your word. Kia kaha. My thoughts are with you.

    • Heather Grimwood 40.1

      To Irene at 40 : I wrote to several M.P.’s yesterday ….had one sensitive and immediate reply, and will extend my efforts today.
      I am not a user, am in good health, have no pain, but know that Helen’s plight is common and untenable.
      Helen, you are incredibly unbelievably strong, and I have admired your articulate courage for a long time. Yes, focus on yourself as others have persuaded above. You have done a huge thing in this furthering of understanding to us and may it inspire immediate government action.
      Caring thoughts.

  40. adam 41

    Thanks for a wonderful birthday present yesterday Helen. I did not respond yesterday as I was forced to take opiates for pain relief, and quite frankly writing here on those drugs is a waste of mine and everyone else’s time. Most of my life I broke the law a used weed in a medical way.

    Yes, that’s right folks rather than the milk of poppy, I would smoke pot. Now, I chase the dragon, because that is more acceptable to society. My question for all the people who don’t suffer from, chronic pain why you get to moralise about it? Why do you want to trample on my and other suffers of chronic pain right to choice? For me life was better and I functioned with pot, had jobs even. Now days, it’s been years since full time employment. Truth is, people care more for some misguided moral point, rather than let people have quality of life.

    I will not take pot till it is no longer in the hands of prohibition loving fools. Instead, I will take the legalised milk of the poppy, won’t be able to work and suffer all the I’ll side effects of that drug. I may be the disabled one, but they are the sick ones, who keep laws in place to make people suffer.

    • mickysavage 41.1

      The funny thing is that the use of unprescribed opiates is much more serious than the use of cannabis but it is much easier to be prescribed an opiate.

    • marty mars 41.2

      adam – all the best for your journey and the choices you are making. I am not in your position so I won’t try to pontificate on what ‘I’ think. I hope you can get some pot to help you out – kia kaha

  41. Clemgeopin 42

    Dear Helen,

    I have huge admiration for you and wholeheartedly support your efforts. You have always shown a sense of fairness and courage in fighting for many worthy causes.

    I hope the government and the medical profession will also show some fairness, leadership and courage and act immediately now….under a sense of urgency to help you and many others in urgent need.

    Best wishes and God bless. Be strong.


  42. gsays 43

    firstly, helen thank you for your display of courage.

    there is not a down side to cannabis law reform.

    the greatest harm from cannibis is it’s status in law.

  43. North 44

    You top person Helen ! Arohanui.

  44. millsy 45

    The only people who are opposed to the decriminalization/legalization of cannabis are the god-botherers. Because its bad apparently.

    • ropata 45.1

      Don’t be silly. It’s entirely up to the Nats and they have drawn a political line in the sand (from http://publicaddress.net/hardnews/kia-kaha-helen-kelly/):

      Dunne is habitually, and often unfairly, pilloried in these matters. Yet in delivering the new National Drug Policy last year, he had to carefully navigate the National government’s cynical and entirely political stance on drug law reform to become the first minister to acknowledge that a significant portion of the harm from illicit drugs lies in the laws that make them illicit.

      Dunne is also constrained by the official advice he receives. Even when, as was the case in November when Pharmac’s Pharmacology Therapeutics Advisory Committee advised against extending the subsidy for Sativex, the advice is frankly misguided. The committee advised against the funding in part because of the risk of “diversion” of Sativex for recreational use. Sativex is an oral spray containing a 50-50 ratio of the two main cannabinoids, THC and CBD – and is thus a poor candidate for getting high. The idea that criminals might seek to misuse it when actual cannabis (which will get you high) is widely available is simply ludicrous. But that’s the nature of the environment we’re in.

      Furthermore (comment by Sacha):


      Clinical Leader of Pain Management at one of our DHBs argues the case in favour of doctors prescribing cannabis with appropriate scope and controls – via commenter Annie Helm at The Standard.

      His last para makes a good point:

      There is an ethical dimension to this. Given that we have an available, effective treatment for a disabling condition where no other treatment exists, not to prescribe may be considered to be unethical, even negligent.

      • Treetop 45.1.1

        Clinical Leader of Pain Management needs to be listened to by the small minded politicians who deny people with interminable pain, chronic nausea, fits, a treatment choice which works.

        Shame the flag referendum is a priority to the medical cannabis debate. A bit of cloth is more important to the government than the well being of very unwell people.

  45. weka 46

    “I would like a referendum on the issue at the next election”

    What I’m hoping for is that cannabis use in general gets decriminalised for medical use. That way pharmaceuticals can be prescribed and sold here, but home growers can also produce their own product, for themselves, to suit themselves. We need both. It would be a mistake to continue to block home use. Users are far ahead of the medical community on appropriate use and what works and it will take time for medicine to catch up, if it ever does. All that should be needed is a doctor’s note.

  46. Scott M 47

    “Only the good die young”

    Yet another example of this. Such a shame that such passionate and loyal people as you, who have so much TO GIVE, have your lives cut short.

  47. Helen 48

    Thanks everyone who has commented here and especially those supporting this issue. It has been totally reassuring and wonderful how much support and empathy there is for my situation and the situation of others. Even the Stuff comments section is worth reading! Talking to your local MP about this issue including a referendum and between us reporting the responses would be a good starting activity for all those asking how they can help. Thanks again.

  48. jerry 49

    We sell and we’re suppliers of various types of medical marijuana strains and pain pills.cannabis oil, hash oil,hemp oil,wax oil, Cbd, afgan oil,edibles and give a caregives to all ours patients. EMAIL at {{rickkysimpsonoffice@gmail.com} They’re available in Good Quality and are ready available for those above 18years, we do both retailing and wholesales. Our products are of High purity (99.92 -99.98 %).We globally ship discretely with our prices being moderate.Contact for more information if interested in any of our stuffs for prompt and discrete supplies .Willing to mix and match strains and we do provide a medical cards.We sale top quality naturally grown buds..(Cure -Cancer, back pain,
    sleeping, stress , apitite, brain tumor,seizure,back pain,insomnia Pains,Diabetes,Cancer,Epilepsy,Inflammation,Digestive Disorders,Anxiety Disorders,Nausea,Diarrhea, Cramping major and many other illness
    etc. we do also provide medical cards to all ours costumers who needed

  49. Jason 50

    Hi Helen.. Are u familiar with the Endocannabinoid (ECS) system in the human body?.. If not , I’d suggest a little research on it. U will then have a clear understanding as to why this plant is beneficial for your health. The ECS is the human body’s own form of cannabis, regulating a whole host of vital functionings within the body.. Heart, kidney, storage, gastroinal activity, energy intake, nutrition transportation, appetite, sleep, mood, cognitive functioning and more…. When cannabis is ingested, the cannabinoids in the plant, over 460 of them, seek out and bind with the receptors in the ECS, creating a wholistic healing by naturally promoting healthy cells and destroying bad cells. That’s why people in the know are using it to treat their conditions, like cancer for instance.. Because unlike the nasty chemo, radiation treatments that just destroy all the cells, cannabis targets only those bad cells and leaves the healthy ones alone. There are no negative side effects because it is natural to your environment (your body).. It is only the unnatural things we put in the body that cause negative side effects. Just like our environment (the planet) is suffering from the use of toxic chemicals, unnatural to nature, so to does the body suffer in the same way.
    I keep hearing about how we need to do more studies, and get more opinions from doctors etc.. No we don’t.. All the information is right at your fingertips, and I think it’s time people stopped relying on others to tell them what’s good for them and what isn’t.. This debate becomes more and more obsurd every time I hear it.. A bunch of adults, telling other grown adults, what’s best for them. 🤔… Hope this finds u in good spirits.. My unconditional love to u 🙂

  50. A great testimony I must share to all cancer patients in the world. My husband was diagnosed with stage 4 primary liver cancer in
    March 2013. The doctor told us there was not much to be done since the tumor was 7 inches covering his lower lobe and also had
    spread to his lymph nodes. We decided to go home and called hospice which gave us morphine for pain. Ed hated the morphine which
    made him vomit and also affected his mind. After one week at home we decided to do what we have done for many years, rely on
    ourselves.We were only in Hospital for 3 days with severe Pain. The cancer had blocked his bile duct, after that we choose a
    Naturopath doctor and have not had conventional treatments. one day i came across the use of cannabis oil for treatment of cancer
    and i saw a post on how a cancer patient was cured with cannabis oil. I urgently needed help and i contacted the email :(phoenixtears47@gmail.com) to get the cannabis oil, i was given instructional guide on how to use it. After taking a gram
    of oil per day. Within a couple of weeks his pain and swollen stomach disappeared and with it came hope and a good quality of
    life. We never saw an ocologist and only have done a blood test after the first diagnose CT scan. His tumor marker went from over
    6000 to normal and he is feeling well. We don’t know how this is going to play out, but enjoy every day and give thanks. As i am
    writing this post, my husband is free from liver cancer and the doctor confirmed that the cancer was cured permanently. For
    immediate assistance on every medical issue you and your family may be experiencing, contact Dr Rick via email: (phoenixtears47@gmail.com) for more information and the delivery process.

  51. Mabel Raymond 52

    My Husband that was highly infected with colon cancer with mets to other parts of the body, he was even given 6 months herbal medication by dr. Osas. Life for the family was a living hell with sorrow in the heart, but today iam shouting out to the world that the herbal medicine has saved my husband from dying. he is still alive and we are in the 10th month. God is so great to the Faithful. Thanks to Dr Osas that prepared the herbal medication for us that we used in curing my Husband. Once again I want to thank dr. Osas for his wonderful Herbal medicine. We are now happy family with my Husband back alive, strong and healthy. You can contact Dr. Osas on every sickness and diseases issue on his email: doctorosasherbalhome@gmail.com or contact his number via +2348112252378 or you can as well add him on whatsapp with same number.


    1. HIV/AIDS
    2. HERPES
    4. ALS

    [r0b: Given the unusual nature of this thread I will let this comment through. Its presence here should not be taken as any form of endorsement from the authors of this blog. Claims that herbal medicines can cure the diseases listed above are statements of faith, not science.]

  52. Louis Paris 53

    I am Louis Paris, aged 59. once with this diabolical disease called cancer ‘when I heard about the magical oil called cannabis oil I decided to give it a try. But how to get it became a problem, I went looking for, and came across medical Rick Simpson oil, I contacted Dr. Rick Simpson at Ricksimpsonmedicaloil@outlook.com by e-mail that have helped many patients with cannabis oil, so I gave it a try and within 5 days, my cannabis oil was delivered to my doorstep and set aside that he gave me instructions on how to use the oil. and within 3 weeks of my application, I have seen tremendous change in my health so far so good I’m getting stronger every day, all thanks to the sincere doctor.

  53. Jenner Rutherford 54


    Indeed, cannabis oil absolutely fights cancer and seizures in humans, which everyone must accepts at this point. My Mother was diagnosed with lung cancer, she has had an extremely difficult journey. She has had two rounds of chemotherapy and she was experiencing liver failure, a weak appetite and depression are a few of her symptoms. I wondered what other treatment options could help her and also how long she has to live. I came across this page http://tinyurl.com/huvvo9n in search for alternative treatment. I bought the cannabis oil from London cancer centre by forwarding an email to londoncancercentre@gmail.com and so far the cannabis oil medication has proved effective. I am so happy so i decided to use this medium to inform all cancer patient that with a good cannabis oil, you can definitely fight cancer

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