Who Came to America, and When?
The United States has a long-standing history of being a “nation of immigrants”, and today the country is home to roughly 46.6 million residents that were born outside of the country.
Here are three maps and data visualizations that give us some history of who came to America, and when it all happened.
200 Years of Immigration
To begin, this video from Metrocosm shows immigration to the U.S. starting from 1820. Each dot represents 10,000 people.
At first, immigration is coming almost exclusively from Europe.
But by around 1900, immigration from Russia, China, Canada, Turkey and Japan picks up – but then WWII devastates global mobility, and immigration to the U.S. grinds to a halt.
After WWII, it is the Cold War era, but the rate of arrivals slowly picks up again. Immigration eventually peaks between 1990-2000 after the fall of the Iron Curtain. Asian and Mexican immigration is also particularly strong around this time.
Here’s another look – this time, it’s a data visualization from Insightful Interaction using data from the Yearbook of Immigration Statistics from 1820 to 2015.
Similar peaks in immigration near 1900 and 2000 can be seen. The dip from WWII is even more pronounced when visualizing the data this way.
The boom in newcomers from Mexico is also evident in the 1990s, though it has tapered off significantly in recent years.
Made in America
Over time, more people start feeling like their roots are tied to America, rather than having ancestry from somewhere else.
This final visualization from Overflow Data that shows the percentage of people in each state that claim to have American ancestry:
People in the country’s heartland and southern states are more likely to identify as having American ancestry, while folks along the coasts and northern states tend to see themselves as having ancestry from other parts of the world.
The highest rates of self-identification happen in Kentucky (17.6%), Tennessee (16.0%), and Alabama (16.4%). The lowest can be found in Hawaii (1.5%), D.C. (2.0%), and California (3.1%).
Timeline: Cannabis Legislation in the U.S.
At the federal level, cannabis is illegal, but state laws differ. This graphic looks at the timelines of cannabis legislation in the U.S.
Timeline: Cannabis Legislation in the U.S.
At the federal level, cannabis is still considered an illegal substance. That said, individual states do have the right to determine their own laws around cannabis sales and usage.
This visual from New Frontier Data looks at the status of cannabis in every state and the timeline of when medical and/or recreational use became legal.
Cannabis Through the Years
In the U.S., the oldest legalese concerning cannabis dates back to the 1600s—the colony of Virginia required every farm to grow and produce hemp. Since then, cannabis use was fairly wide open until the 1930s when the Marihuana Tax Act was enforced, prohibiting marijuana federally but still technically allowing medical use.
Jumping ahead, the Controlled Substances Act was passed in 1970, classifying cannabis as Schedule I drug—the same category as heroin. This prohibited any use of the substance.
However, the 1970s also saw a counter movement, wherein many states made the move towards decriminalization. Decriminalization means that although possessing cannabis remained illegal, a person would not be subject to jail time or prosecution for possessing certain amounts.
By the 1990s, some of the first states passed laws to allow the medical usage of cannabis, and by 2012 two states in the U.S.—Washington and Colorado—legalized the recreational use of cannabis.
Cannabis Legislation Today and Beyond
The MORE Act (the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement Act) was passed in the House early 2022, and if made law, it would decriminalize marijuana federally.
“This bill decriminalizes marijuana. Specifically, it removes marijuana from the list of scheduled substances under the Controlled Substances Act and eliminates criminal penalties for an individual who manufactures, distributes, or possesses marijuana.”– U.S. Congress
Cannabis still remains illegal at the federal level, but at the state levels, cannabis is now fully legal (both for medicinal and recreational purposes) in a total of 22 states.
Over 246 million Americans have legal access to some form of marijuana products with high THC levels. Looking to the future, many new cannabis markets are expected to open up in the next few years:
The earliest states expected to open up next for recreational cannabis sales are Minnesota and Oklahoma. There is always a lag between legalization and actual sales, wherein local regulatory bodies and governments set standards. States like Kentucky, on the other hand, aren’t likely to even legalize medicinal cannabis until 2028.
It’s estimated that by 2030, there will be 69 million cannabis consumers in the country, up 33% from 2022.
Overall, the U.S. cannabis market is likely an important one to watch as legal sales hit $30 billion in 2022. By the end of the decade, that number is expected to be anywhere from $58 billion to as much as $72 billion.
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