A farmworker tends to soon-to-be-harvested marijuana plants, at Los Suenos Farms in Avondale, southern Colo., Oct. 4, 2016.

Brennan Linsley/CPR News

The usual suspects—​economy, immigration, healthcare—remain top issues in the upcoming midterm elections. But a previously minor player has entered a larger role nationally: marijuana.

Politicians aren't as afraid anymore to talk openly about cannabis, even Republicans from states where recreational marijuana is not yet legal, said Matt Laslo, a reporter who follows marijuana issues in Washington, D.C.​

What's more, four states are considering legalization in some form this midterm. And senators Cory Gardner (R-CO) and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) have formed an unlikely alliance to co-sponsor a bill that would legitimize Colorado's marijuana industry.

Laslo talked to Colorado Matters about the upcoming marijuana ballot measures and the culture shift at the capitol.