It should have been called the Helen Kelly Law.

When the former Council of Trade Unions boss was alive she had to break the law to get cannabis, both the law she so desperately wanted passed but never lived to see, and the wicked weed she had to get off a drug dealer.

Kelly, a lifelong battler for the underdog, died just over two years ago of lung cancer. The cruel irony was she wasn't a smoker, until she was forced to go underground to get dope to alleviate her pain.


Those like her will now be able to get loose-leaf marijuana if they're suffering from a terminal illness and need pain relief.

Parliament has legalised the use of marijuana for that purpose and it'll now be a defence in court if you're busted with the illicit drug and you can provide a doctor's certificate to show you need it. If you don't have one when you're caught, no worries - you can get it retrospectively.

Unfortunately to get the long overdue pain relief in place they've had to put the horse before the cart. The terminally ill will, like Kelly, still have to go on to the black market to get their fix but those who're supplying it are still breaking the law.

In time they'll work out a regulatory regime for growing and supply of the weed and for the manufacture of other cannabis-based medicinal products. That'll probably come around the same time they have a referendum to legalise it anyway.

Opposing the law change, Simon Bridges, in referring to the first bill he's actually spoken to since becoming leader, seemed to have his drugs confused, telling Parliament's bear pit he wanted to make it crystal clear. Seriously though, he and his colleagues said it was the decriminalisation of cannabis by stealth.

Next thing, he fumed, they'll be smoking it outside the school gate - and then appeared to contradict himself, saying National's up for debating the decriminalisation of dope.

Yeah well, someone smoking weed with a terminal illness isn't likely to be on the school run. Anyone in palliative care listening in to Bridges banging on would at least know where to go to get their illegal supply - there'll be shoes all over our power lines, he told his fellow grizzlies.

Sponsoring the bill through its final stage, Health Minister David Clark declared it was a great day and it is - for the cannabis croppers and the drug dealers, with their market potentially expanding by about 25,000 Kiwis on palliative care - if they're not already using them, that is.