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MP’s dope jokes a downer for diners

Health Minister Brad Hazzard.

NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard joked at a boardroom lunch last week that increasing access to medicinal cannabis would be a great thing, saying “it would be great if we could all punch a few cones” and telling one questioner it looked like he “needed a cone”.

The comments, at an Australia-Israel Chamber of Commerce lunch, came with Mr Hazzard unusually bringing along a top NSW Health bureaucrat, Kerry Chant, to the function, and then telling guests Ms Chant could answer questions while he ate his dessert.

Mr Hazzard declined to comment yesterday on his actions.

One guest at the function said that Mr Hazzard’s comments concerning smoking “cones” came after a question in which he was asked about the prospects of the medicinal cannabis industry in NSW.

“The gist was he said ‘sounds like you’re keen to punch a cone’,” one guest said.

“He looked around and said ‘looks like you need a cone’. That (sort of talk from him) carried on for a time. No one laughed.

“(At one point) the mains were done and the dessert came out and he (had) brought Kerry Chant and (said) ‘do you mind taking the discussion … I’m really keen to have my ice cream’.”

Guests speculated yesterday whether, given Mr Hazzard’s behaviour, the 66-year-old Health Minister and member for Wakehurst was considering retiring at the March state election.

Mr Hazzard, who has been in the NSW parliament since 1991, has previously signalled he will run again.

AICC chief executive Michelle Blum said: “I cannot make any comment on this as it was a private lunch, closed to media and with Chatham House rules applying. I suggest you contact the minister’s office directly if you are seeking comments.”

Premier Gladys Berejiklian declined to comment on Mr Hazzard’s comments yesterday.

It is not the first time Mr Hazzard has been at the centre of inappropriate language over the medical cannabis issue.

Primary Industries Minister Niall Blair called Mr Hazzard a “f..king arsehole” in the Coalition partyroom last year when the ­Nationals minister said Mr Hazzard was failing to brief the government MPs correctly over medicinal cannabis.

Last Wednesday’s lunch took place before about 30 guests.

Former premier Mike Baird legalised medicinal cannabis in NSW after being lobbied by campaigner Lucy Haslam, whose son Dan succumbed to cancer.

Doctors can apply on behalf of their patients to gain access to the drug. But Ms Haslam has since campaigned for even greater loosening of the laws.

The Israeli medicinal cannabis industry is seen as the world ­leader in research. Originally published here:

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