Fight for medicinal cannabis goes on despite Helen Kelly's death

(Getty / file)
(Getty / file)

Helen Kelly, who died on Friday, never stopped fighting - and in her final year she lent her voice to the cause of medicinal cannabis.

She used the illegal drug to treat pain brought on by terminal cancer - and when she couldn't get what she wanted in New Zealand, she even took her search all the way to Cuba.

Not just looking to help herself, Ms Kelly was looking for help for others too.

Among them was Pike River widow Anna Osbourne - who has cancer and now uses cannabis too.

"I think because Helen has endorsed the use of it, it has helped hugely," she told Newshub.

"I'm just very very sad that she was denied the right to use it."

Rose Renton won the right to give her son Alex medicinal cannabis to treat seizures before he died.

Ms Renton is still fighting for legalisation.

"Helen gives strength to whatever cause she is involved in and us - a community and a group - she gave us that," she said.

Both women say the Government has failed.

"There's a few politicians that really need to hold their heads down in shame," Ms Osbourne said.

"It bloody makes me angry, actually."

"How can we let down a New Zealander like Helen Kelly?" Ms Renton said.

The one responsible in Government, Peter Dunne, wouldn't talk to Newshub on Friday, but Labour says they'll make it a priority if elected.

"It's a no-brainer. This is something we could do right away and we should do," Labour leader Andrew Little said.

But the pressure is growing - a recent Drug Foundation poll found four in five Kiwis think medicinal cannabis should at least be decriminalised.

So while Ms Kelly can no longer lead the chorus, there are plenty of other voices out there to champion the cause.