A tweak in the approach to regulating legal highs could provide a glimmer of hope for campaigners demanding a more liberal approach to Britain's drug laws.
Liberal Democrat Home Office minister Norman Baker announced the launch of a review into legal highs today, as the government tries to get a handle on an industry which can alter the chemical compositions of substances faster than it can pass legislation banning them.
And smuggled in there – left unspoken – there was a potentially revolutionary development.
Baker will be taking evidence from several countries' approaches, including the US, where broad families of synthetic drugs are outlawed, and Ireland, where there is a general law banning dangerous psychoactive substances.
But he is particularly interested in the system used in New Zealand, where anyone producing a drug for recreational use is required to obtain a licence, that puts the onus on the manufacturer to prove the substance's safety.
It's a subtle shift, but a vital one. It would set an explicit legal precedent unheard of in Britain since the war on drugs began: that a harmless drug should not be banned.
Any such system would embrace the notion of evidence-based drug policy, where legislation would be dependent on the harm of a substance.
That is very far away from the approach of the Home Office in recent years, where the advice of the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs is frequently disregarded by Home Office ministers where it proves too liberal.
Professor David Nutt, the former head of the council, was sacked by then-home secretary Alan Johnson after he pointed out that, statistically, taking ecstasy was no more dangerous than riding a horse.
The creation of a licensing system which allowed the sale of psychoactive substances which present no risk to health would be a huge change to drug policy.
It would encourage an industry to take advantage of the freedom offered to substances which demonstrably cause no damage to the body.
That would be a significant shift from producers' current approach, which relies on pretending their products are 'plant food', 'research chemicals' or 'unsuitable for human consumption'.
But it would also offer those who want a rational, evidence-based approach to drugs policy a foot in the door - a legal framework from which a larger argument can be made about how to regulate recreational substances.
The potential for a more liberal regulatory system is the latest sign that Baker intends to try to secure enlightened changes at the Home Office.
The Lib Dem is keeping his cards close to his chest as he navigates the difficult political reality of operating in the department, which has not seen a liberal (with a small 'l') occupy a position of power for decades.
Even his comments on today's review offer few signs of how potentially liberal its outcome could be.
"The coalition government is determined to clamp down on the reckless trade in so-called 'legal highs', which has tragically already claimed the lives of far too many young people in our country," he said.
"Despite being marketed as legal alternatives to banned drugs, users cannot be sure of what they contain and the impact they will have on their health. Nor can they even be sure that they are legal.
"Our review will consider how current legislation can be better tailored to enable the police and law enforcement officers to combat this dangerous trade and ensure those involved in breaking the law are brought to justice."
Unfortunately but predictably, Labour's response has been of the stock authoritarian variety. Shadow crime minister Diana Johnson berated the Home Office for not acting quicker and demanded the prosecutions of shops selling the drugs.
"If this Tory-led government was serious about helping to close down these shops they'd back Labour's amendment," she said.
Of course, if Labour was serious about preventing harm to young people, it would adopt a more liberal, rational approach to the legal high industry.
The makers of legal highs can subtly alter the chemical make-up of a drug while retaining its effect. They are much faster and nimbler than statutory legislation.
The number of cannabinoids, stimulant powders and other psychoactive substances in circulation has tripled in four years, with a new legal high reaching the market every week. There are about 700 websites alone selling the products.
There is little point trying to be ever more authoritarian on these substances. It's like watching Tom trying to catch Jerry. It may look as if something is being done, but he'll never manage it.
If we are really worried about our children, and not the reaction of the tabloid press, we would institute a regulatory structure that makes it clear that only safe substances would be on sale in shops.
There's no guarantee the New Zealand model will win the day. There will be plenty of opposition from the Home Office before it publishes its conclusions in the spring. But the fact it is even being countenanced suggests Baker is making significant inroads at the Home Office.
Inconvenient figures have been whitewashed from the coverage of Nelson Mandela's death.
The photo pull-out sections show the South African leader with Bill Clinton, with Princess Diana and Naomi Campbell and the Spice Girls. But his close friendship with Fidel Castro and the two men's habit of calling each other 'brother' is written out of history.
At his memorial service today, the presence of figures like Cuban leader (and Fidel's brother) Raul Castro is treated as an example of Mandela's ability to straddle political and ideological divides. After all, something has to explain the presence of these evil figures at a service for a saint.
But Castro is not being given pride of place as a sign of Mandela's ability to straddle divides. He is given pride of place because black South Africans, unlike Brits or Americans, recognise Cuba's proud role in the end of apartheid.
While Britain was supplying arms and military equipment to the apartheid regime, Cuba was sending its men to fight it, securing key military victories and crippling its room for manoeuvre.
For decades, Cuba supported the armed struggle liberation movements in South Africa, Cape Verde, Guinea-Bissau, Angola and Mozambique. In 1961, when Che Guevara attended a summit in Geneva as industry minister, he attacked "the inhuman and fascist policy of apartheid" and demanded the expulsion of South Africa from the UN, all decades before Britain could bring itself to challenge the racist government.
The climax of the decades-long campaign came when Cuba supported liberation forces in Angola against South African interference. In the 1988 battle of Cuito Cuanvale, a victory celebrated across southern Africa, South African soldiers were defeated a volunteer Cuban army , dragging PW Botha and FW de Klerk to the negotiating table.
Mandela described Cuba as "our friend", a country which "helped us train our people, who gave us resources that helped us so much in our struggle". He added: "The defeat of the racist army at Cuito Cuanavale has made it possible for me to be here today. What other country can point to a record of greater selflessness than Cuba has displayed in its relations with Africa? For the Cuban people internationalism is not merely a word but something that we have seen practiced to the benefit of large sections of humankind."
When challenged on his friendship with Castro by Clinton, Mandela replied: "We should not abandon those who helped us in the darkest hour in the history of this country."
What does it mean? Does it mean that the gay people and political campaigners imprisoned in Cuban jails are any more free? No. Does it make it any less sickening that the Cuban regime treats freedom of speech as an aberration against single party rule? No. Does it protect Cubans from impoverishment in the name of dogma? It does not.
But it speaks to a far more complex and nuance reality than that tolerated by the mainstream media.
While Margaret Thatcher was branding Mandela a terrorist and selling arms to the apartheid regime, Communist Cuba took up arms against it. While Britain was strutting the world stage, throwing around high-minded accusations about human rights, Cuban volunteers were dying in Angola fighting the racist regime.
For all the endless hours of coverage about Mandela in the last few days, a typical reader would have no idea about the role Cuba played in the overthrow of apartheid. The media refuses to look at history independently. It is still guided by government-mandated assessments of good guys and bad guys. Cuba are bad guys, so they could not possibly have done anything good.
The public are fed a sanitised and self-serving view of history. It's small wonder Britain's moral posturing on the world stage contrasts so disappointingly with its moral failures.
Tom Daley just did more for gay culture by lying back on a couch than thousands of hours of diligent campaign work could ever hope to achieve.
The Olympic diver's statement, delivered through YouTube, that he was dating a guy will have probably surprised few people.
What was truly special about the announcement was the way in which it was made. There was no sombre, set-piece, media-event TV interview. There was none of the fevered, front page hysteria which would have greeted a newspaper exclusive.
Instead, Daley appeared relaxed, confident and, most importantly, informal. By lying back as he delivered the statement, in what appeared to be a room with just him and his camera phone, he undercut the almost-religious importance the media and political class give to this topic.
Instead, he was just a guy, chatting about his sexuality openly and optimistically.
"I still fancy girls, of course," he said, without any hint of cheekiness or machismo.
This is the language of shrugging your shoulders, of something becoming so obvious it does not warrant controversy. It is a major victory and a glimpse of a world where legislation will be as far removed from the gay debate as spanners are from sandwiches.
It was indicative of how young people talk about sexuality: as something which resists the firm definitions of 'gay', 'straight' and 'bi'. And as something which is not worthy of the solemn tone of the Westminster bubble, where defenders and opponents of gay rights treat the matter as if it were some great issue of state.
Instead, this was a guy discussing what he liked and felt comfortable with, in an uncertain, matter of fact tone, while lying back, relaxed, with union jack cushions in the background.
It felt like a seismic shift, not in the facts of the debate, but in its manner.
Daley's relaxation and confidence and the lack of importance he seemed to attach to it should be considered a major victory for gay rights campaigners. It shows how far they've come.
This is the upside to a celebrity-fixated, PR-obsessed world. One celebrity lying back as he chats about who he's dating can make a tangible difference to the lives of millions.
If I were an opponent of gay rights, Daley's relaxed manner would scare me more than any piece of legislation.