Graphic designer deals a dank deck

Ben Barrett-Forrest's latest deck of cards is for weed lovers looking to get in the game

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I see your definition of sativa and raise you an overview of edibles.

The latest brainchild from Victoria-based graphic designer Ben Barrett-Forrest, The Weed Deck, is, literally, a dope set of playing cards that doubles as a guide to cannabis. Produced on casino-quality card stock with a linen texture finish, these cards are both great for anyone needing a crash course in weed and perfect for a round of high stakes poker.

“The topic, it seems to me, that everyone needs to know about, especially in Canada, is cannabis,” Barrett-Forrest says to the Straight in a phone interview discussing his inspiration for the deck.

“Cannabis is going to be in everyone’s lives over the next couple of years and so many people know very little about the subject.”

Barrett-Forrest says he has always been interested in the plant, but since talks of cannabis legalization began he became fixated on the surge of scientific research.

“Cannabis has become very close to my heart in both lifestyle and academic situations.”

Graphic designer Barrett-Forrest created two sets of playing cards before The Weed Deck that centred around his love of design and typography.
The Weed Deck

When he began researching weed, however, Barrett-Forrest says, besides a small handful of dense textbook-style resources and inconsistent online information, he found there was a lack of educational guides when it came to learning the basics. He says that’s where The Weed Deck comes into play.

The deck covers a wide range of topics, from scientific definitions and consumption methods, to cultural factoids like common nicknames and historic timelines. It also comes with an instructional card on how to roll a standard joint and make weed-infused cooking oil.

“I pulled all of the information from peer-reviewed academic sources to create a reliable foundation,” he says, adding that he had it proof-read by professionals in the cannabis industry and verified by a doctor.

Barrett-Forrest began his foray into the world of playing cards in 2014 when he created his first set, The Design Deck, which he shortly followed up with The Font Deck. Both sets are game-ready beginner’s guides to two of his passions: design and typography.

“Four years ago, I designed The [Design] Deck and hadn't really thought too many people would be interested in it. So, I put it on Kickstarter with a $500 goal…just a very moderate goal because that would have allowed me to get a few decks made and sent out to friends,” he says.

Within a month of launching his first campaign, Barrett-Forrest raised over $27,500. Since then, he has sold over 10,000 decks in over 90 countries.

“That just kind of came out of the ether. It felt like people from around the world kind of discovered my project,” he says.

“The same thing is happening, as we speak, with The Weed Deck…most of the people who are finding and supporting this project are people I have had no previous involvement with and have just stumbled upon the idea and been excited about it.”

The Weed Deck creator Ben Barrett-Forrest chose artist Celia Krampien for her ability to create accurate and aesthetically-pleasing illustrations.
The Weed Deck

Unlike his previous decks, where he championed the research, design, and sales entirely alone, Barrett-Forrest calls The Weed Deck “a collaborative effort”.

“I hired an incredibly talented illustrator, Celia Krampien,” he says.

“She has this beautiful, clean, accurate, yet playful style that I knew would be perfect for this project…I think she knocked it out of the park.”

With just under a month left on the Kickstarter campaign, his latest project has already gleaned over $8,600 in funding, exceeding the initial goal of $5,000. He says the decks will be ready to ship just in time for Christmas.

And if cards aren’t your thing, he says, Barrett-Forrest is releasing all of the information in a handy hardcover pocket guide called, aptly, The Weed Book, which can be ordered through the digital campaign, as well.