Filmmaker says marijuana kept Helen Kelly active near the end

The remarkable life of unionist Helen Kelly is being celebrated in a new film by Tony Sutorius.

As well as her extensive campaigning for workers' rights, Ms Kelly fiercely advocated drug reform until her death.  

Ms Kelly was the first woman to lead the Council of Trade Unions and held the post as president for eight years before stepping down in 2015 after being diagnosed with terminal lung cancer.

She was initially given just seven weeks to live, but defied medical expectations and kept campaigning right up until her death in October 2016.

Ms Kelly often spoke publicly about using cannabis to treat her pain, which is proven to have numerous benefits for patients with cancer.

Marijuana's anti-inflammatory properties particularly helped Ms Kelly when tumours spread to her back and began to press on her spine.

Mr Sutorius says Ms Kelly's supporters helped by sending her marijuana-based relief.

"She'd come home and there'd be [cannabis products] just piled up on her doorstep. People from all over the country were sending her all kinds of lotions and potions."

Mr Sutorius said he never watched her obtain or take cannabis to avoid legal risk.

"There was potential for my footage to be taken by the police if that had happened."

Mr Sutorius says it was the cannabis products that helped Helen when she was in the final years of her life, enabling her to continue her activism.

"It made an important material difference, it was was one of the reasons she was just able to keep going each day, because she wasn't feeling sick. She could eat and she could keep working."

Green MP's Chloe Swarbrick’s recent attempt to reform medical marijuana laws was stymied when her bill failed at its first reading.

Act Party Leader David Seymour previously told Newshub Nation he supported the Bill, and it was a "shame she didn't work harder to get the votes”.

A comparatively more conservative Bill put forward by the Labour party has progressed to the select committee stage. It will allow terminally ill patients to use cannabis but not grow it themselves, as the Green Party Bill proposed.

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