Former Council of Trade Unions president Helen Kelly has come out in support of a fledgling medicinal cannabis charity.
Medical Cannabis Awareness New Zealand (MCANZ) is fundraising to provide legal medicinal cannabis spray Sativex to 10 patients across New Zealand.
Kelly, who has terminal lung cancer, said in a recorded endorsement that she did not want to see families missing out on Sativex because of its $1200-a-month pricetag.
"We need a proper medicinal cannabis law in New Zealand to make this accessible [and] to have it funded, but in the meantime there are families with desperate people missing out on what has been a fantastic drug for me, the best drug available for pain relief, for nausea, for stimulating my appetite."
In October Kelly admitted she had illegally obtained and used cannabis oil for pain relief.
"I have got cancer everywhere and it has enabled me at night to have a full night's sleep, to be comfortable, to be pain free.
"I don't want to see families missing out this because they don't have the money. Please support this charity, it's a great initiative," she said.
MCANZ co-ordinator Shane Le Brun said the advocacy group was grateful for the support of a "notable public figure tackling this issue from a [perspective of] genuine personal need".
However, he said not everyone was able to flout the law as Kelly had.
"Some, like a patient we are fundraising for, are in care facilities while others with severe disabilities relation to multiple sclerosis are in no position to get stuck into the gardening as it were.
"Charities representing multiple sclerosis and cancer have been largely silent to the detriment of the patient groups they purport to represent. We hope in future that other public figures and charities will join us in publicly taking a positive stance on this issue."
Le Brun said the 10 patients MCANZ is fundraising for have medical and ministerial approval, leaving cost the sole barrier to access.
One patient had already experienced dramatic improvement in his sleeping patterns and reduced seizure activity using Sativex, he said.
"[It gives] the family caring for him an improvement in their lives, easing the burden for several people.
"We have one legal pharmaceutical grade option which, while not suitable for everyone and almost unobtainable, it is proving possible to access for those with the most extreme need"
"We hope with the support of New Zealanders we can continue to support these 10 needy patients [to] receive a potentially life-changing treatment."