Helen Kelly on using medicinal cannabis

Helen Kelly was interviewed on The Nation this morning (it will be repeated tomorrow morning at 10 am). She has lung cancer, and she has admitted using medicinal cannabis for pain relieving.

Interview: Outgoing CTU President Helen Kelly

Helen Kelly looks back on a life spent fighting for the underdog and her own personal battle with lung cancer. She’s the first female president of the CTU is stepping down next week

. admits using cannabis oil for her cancer; but says she shouldn’t be forced to break the law.

Per Zedd in Open Forum:

I was more interested in the interview with Helen Kelly & her talk about Cannabis Oil as a possible alternative Cancer treatment. (being trialed overseas) She said:
* she currently has access to morphine for pain, but was aware that cannabis is a gentler, less toxic option. She said she intends to write to Dunne & ask that it be made available to her & others who could benefit from it.
* she said Aotearoa/NZ has a ‘small town’ attitude to new, alternative issues (like med-cannabis) & was more intent on shutting it down, rather than having a rational debate on it !
* unlike Clinton, she said “Yes, I DID inhale !”.. good onya Helen

Transcript on her use of medicinal cannabis:

 – I want to talk now about your health. Tell me —you’ve gone public with this – have you noticed that people treat you differently once they know that you are ill?

No, people have been very kind, and I come home and my garden’s been done by the pixies – I don’t know. There’s been all these amazing, beautiful outpourings of support, which have been really nice, but no, I haven’t noticed people treat me differently. People are surprised that I still look so well, I think, but, yeah, people want to talk about it, I guess. There’s been more conversations about my health than ever before, but, no, people don’t treat me differently.

 – But you’ve sort of engaged in some black humour, and even when you said you were coming on this show, someone put out a tweet that said ‘walking dead’, and you favourite that tweet.

Yeah, well, there is a bit of black humour, you know? I mean, I got a life membership of this new union the other day, and I was thinking, ‘The cheapskates – life membership,’ you know? They’re saving their money. Yeah, you have to have a bit of black humour, because otherwise you could disappear and, um, not live your life while you’re living. I mean, I feel like I’m living my life at the moment, not dying, so that’s what I’m trying to do.

 – You’ve had chemotherapy, and I think you’ve had some new immunotherapy as well, so how is all of that going for you?

It’s not going great. The immunotherapy’s a brand-new drug. It’s just being trialled, really, and they’re just trying to work out—they don’t know how it works or why it works. And I have tried it, and I– Well, it’s hard to tell, but the cancer’s progressing, which is a sign that maybe it’s not working as they hoped. So, yeah, I mean, that’s my lot, really.

 – But what about alternative treatments? Are you looking at that?

No. The only alternative stuff I’m doing is basically eating healthily and taking some various herbs and spices, but, you know, I would like to try some more alternative therapies that are coming on the market, like cannabis oil. I’m really brassed off that those sorts of remedies are not available.

Cannabis oil is now—the National Geographic is suggesting that it’s got some real curative qualities, which I’m not sure about, but it’s definitely got some healthy pain-relief qualities which I’d really like to access. I’m actually going to write to Peter Dunne, who’s got permission to give me cannabis oil, and I’m going to ask him to do that. I’ve known Peter Dunne sine I was a kid, basically.

When I was in Karori, at the teachers’ college, he was the MP there. I’ve worked with him. He knows that I’m not a drug addict —not that that should matter – but it’s for health reasons. I’ve exhausted all of the normal medicines. I could get morphine as much as I like, which is a horrible drug.

And I would like access to cannabis oil – both because I’m interested in its curative effect; actually I think there’s something in that – but particularly because it is a mild pain relief that really works on aches and pains and bones.

 – How do you know it works?

Well, just from the research that’s been developed and what you read about it. It’s a non-toxic drug. In America they’re manufacturing it to need. So if it’s pain relief you need, they can manufacture it. If it’s a kid that’s got seizures, they can manufacture it. Here you’re forced to go on the black market; you’re forced to deal in that way. You don’t know what you’re getting.

 – Have you been forced to do that? Have you given it a go yet?

Yes, I have given it a go, and I don’t like doing that, and what I would like is to be able to access it legally.

 – So you’ve taken some already?

Yeah, I’ve inhaled.

 – But now you want that rubber-stamped.

Yeah, and I’m going to write to Peter Dunne, and he’s said he can give medical exemptions, and it’s time this country woke up and realised that, actually, while we’re running short of money on drugs, and there are very, very important drugs that I can’t get on the public health system that would help me in terms of giving me a better quality of life, they’re restricting other drugs that people can take in an organised way and get some benefit from.

 – Because the thing is – treatments like this, end-of-life care – they’re big personal issues, but they’re also big political issues, aren’t they? Where do you stand in terms of terminally-ill people? Should they have the right to seek medical assistance to end their lives?

Yes, I think in the right circumstances they should be able to, and those include their ability to consent, the medical prognosis and whether their symptoms can be managed so they can have a quality of life that most people would expect.

 – Some people might find that interesting, though, because you’ve spent such a large chunk of your life fighting for vulnerable people, and a lot of the argument against legalising euthanasia is that vulnerable people need protection. So how do you–?

Well, you’re not more vulnerable than when you’re dying of a terrible illness and you’re in pain, are you? And so ‘vulnerable people need protection’ could mean that you support them to make choices about whether they want to keep on living.

So, you know, this is a little fishing village, this country. People don’t like new ideas and are challenged by people who put their hand up and say something completely out of the normal space, and they’re often shut down. But we can’t even have a decent debate in this country on the issues of things like use of cannabis oil for medicinal purposes, euthanasia.

There’s this hysterical need to shut down those debates and not have them properly, and people are even shocked, I think, that I’m so open about speaking about my illness and what’s going to happen to me. It’s time we started talking to each other about the issues in this country and supporting people who have got alternative points of view.

Source: http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/PO1510/S00179/lisa-owen-talks-to-ctu-president-helen-kelly.htm

Leave a comment


  1. Cheers Pete 🙂

    btw; I too.. have inhaled (shhh)

  2. Its also good for lower back pain.. if you are interested 🙂

  3. The sooner we sort out cannabis for debilitating pain conditions the better – properly prescribed I’m all for it…..

    • Kevin

       /  10th October 2015

      And the fact that some will use medicinal cannabis for recreational purposes should never be a reason for not allowing medicinal cannabis.

      • I’m liberal on it Kevin – as long as its age restricted like alcohol and people have unbiased information about its effects so they can make adult choices

        Its not for me – but thats might decision. Each to their own

      • Zedd

         /  10th October 2015

        You hit it ‘square on the head’.. its a bloody disgrace that this minister & anyone else, has often alleged that ‘medicinal use is just an excuse to allow recreational use’ BUT the reality is, they use this ‘reasoning’ as an EXCUSE to stop further access or research into real medicinal use !! 😦

        The evidence & research overseas, is clearly showing that it does have benefit for patients with : epilepsy, M-S & as a mild pain-relief (as opposed to opiates).. also shows some relief for HIV, cancer, hep C, in countries that allow it; Canada, USA, some in EU etc.

        Dunne needs to ‘pull his head out’ & stop looking for excuses, to maintain the draconian B-S/status quo that is plainly out-of-date (MODA 1975) 😦

        I just wonder: he must have some ‘very powerful MASTERS’ pulling his strings ?

        • Mike C

           /  10th October 2015


          I have always thought that there was something a bit “off” about Peter Dunne.

          Of course he is constrained to a degree by the contract he made with John Key, but I see that as being normal.

          Ever since I found out Dunne’s Son was on the Legal Team in favour of Synthetic Cannabis, my feelings about Peter Dunne were cemented.

  4. Zedd

     /  11th October 2015

    Dunne obviously has his own ‘agenda’ on med-use & any further rational debate, does not appear to be on it.
    He made it clear that there is only one option (sativex or possibly some other oil.. BUT only if recommended by a GP, certified by a specialist & finally approved by the minister).. ie ‘jump through enough hoops’ & I may let a few get access to a pharmaceutical version ONLY.. regardless of ‘best practice’ occurring in many OECD countries.
    Maybe Dunne should change his name to ‘KING CANUTE’ ? 😦


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