Yes there has been a sudden change of pace on this. Oddly as a result of the Conservative Party leading prominently from the rear.
At the recent Conservative Party conference, formidable Anne Widdecombe, no non-sense shadow home secretary, announced zero-tolerance against drugs with £100 spot fines for any possession of cannabis whaterver.
Now in practice police forces have been directed nationally to target hard drugs and not cannabis. They promptly came out saying it was impractical.
She had given the pre-speech briefing among other newspapers to the Daily Telegraph, which unfortunately for her, six months ago, had come out with an editorial line in favour of considering the legalisation of cannabis.
Friends of Michael Portillo, who had also made a prominent speech to the Conservative Party conference, briefed newspapers to try ringing up a number of shadow cabinet ministers, and ask them if they had every smoked cannabis. 7 promptly admitted that they had, though, funny thing, none had enjoyed it.
This was taken as generally pulling the rug from underneath Anne Widdecombe's policy, and despite the leak from a devoted nephew that she had (unsuccessfully) been trying to help him with his drug habit for 20 years, she was not only left looking foolish but the conservative press was coming out in favour of the legalisation of cannabis.
The leader of the Liberal Democrats, Kennedy was the first British politician who declared, this week, that he was in favour of this, (after a Royal Commission).
And the Mail on Sunday, also a solidly Conservative paper, published an opinion poll showing 60% of the population in favour of the decriminalisation of cannabis.
Other more specialised data recently published include the Times, raking out old material from the US NIMH suggesting cannabis is as addictive as heroin. (pretty debatable I would have thought.) More tellingly the Netherlands with its liberal drug laws has been shown to have a far smaller of the youth population reporting having every consumed cannabis than Britain, which has the highest rate in Western Europe.
So without the Labour party having to compromise its stony face (its own politicians were instructed not to answer personal questions on the subject) the stage is set for the government to initiate a judicious review which will graciously bow to public opinion and cautiously allow cannabis at least for medical purposes.
Shrewdly played, considering the Prime Minister played in a university pop group called "Ugly Rumours" in his youth.