About Sustainable Innovations


In 1834, the first non-indigenous settlers arrived on the shores of the Rock River, just south of downtown Rockford. Germanicus Kent, Thatcher Blake, and Lewis Lemon called their new settlement “Midway” as it was located halfway between Chicago and Galena. Germanicus Kent planned to go into business running a ferry across the Rock River. At that time, the Rockford area was still part of Jo Davies County, so he went to Galena and obtained a ferry permit. To safely run his ferry, he needed a rope to stretch across the river, but being on the far edge of the frontier there was not enough rope for sale in Galena. He then traveled back across the State to Chicago, but once again, he could not find enough rope. Undeterred, Germanicus returned to the shores of the Rock River where he planted a field of hemp.  He grew that hemp, and then fashioned his hempen rope which he used to start his ferry operation… AND THUS BEGAN THE CITY OF ROCKFORD, ILLINOIS!

Given the history of its founding, Sustainable Innovations believes that Rockford is destined to play a major role in the hemp and cannabis production in the State. Sustainable Innovations is proud to be bringing hemp and cannabis production back to Rockford.

S.E.E.D Incubator Program

Rooted on social equity and the pursuit of social justice, Sustainable Innovations is helping other minority-owned business open Hemp Dispensaries in “dispensary deserts.”  In collaboration with Buckbee Weed Co, Sustainable Innovations is currently looking for motivated  Illinois applicants who are willing to work hard.  Sustainable Innovations is committed to ensuring that its incubator partners are true equity stakeholders, and that they always maintain a majority ownership in their businesses.  For more information on Buckbee’s Social Equity and Economic Diversity Incubator Program, please see www.buckbeeseed.com.

(From left going clockwise, Germanic Kent, Thatcher Blake and Lewis Lemon.)


Our commitment to social equity is evident in who we are: our Founder and CEO, John Murray is a personal victim of the failed War on Drugs.

John Murray

Founder & CEO

Our Founder, John Murray, is a disabled minority who has persevered through years plagued with the discrimination and hardships associated with his marijuana conviction. He has launched Sustainable Innovations as a true social equity applicant seeking social justice.

Erik Carlson

Co-Founder & CCO

Erik Carlson’s legal expertise allows Sustainable Innovations to navigate and comply with the complex regulations related to the cannabis industry. As a famed historian and noted philanthropist, he is dedicated to giving back to the City of Rockford and promoting its unique history.

Faraz Khan

Chief Strategy Officer

Faraz is a seasoned founder, operator and deep tech venture capitalist. He has over 20 years working with teams across the globe on operations, fundraising, advising on growth and business strategy.

Joshua Gillan

Co-Founder & Facilities Manager

Joshua Gillan is a combat veteran who served with the 82nd Airborne. He has a personal commitment to giving back to the retired first-responders and veterans who use cannabis to alleviate PTSD or other service-related conditions.

Matt McGinn

Chief Operating Officer

Matt is a three-time winner of the High Times Cannabis Cup's Best Edible Award and a successful beverage entrepreneur. He founded Spacestation and multiple contract manufacturing companies in the cannabis and CPG industry. One of his notable achievements was creating Uncle Arnies™, the top-selling cannabis beverage in California.

Imran Mirza


Imran Mirza owns and operates a successful cannabis cultivation and extraction center in Phoenix, AZ with two of the leading brands in the Arizona cannabis market.

David Nissman


David Nissman previously served as the US Attorney for the Virgin Islands and helped design the tax and banking laws of the US Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico.

Emily Newbury


Emily Newbury has a decade of experience in management and pharmaceuticals. She has a doctorate in pharmacy and a bachelors in business management. She enjoys working hard and giving back to the community.