PECK, KS (KCTV) -- Franklin Butch Morrell has a big compost pile just behind his house.
It’s dirt that he’s really proud of.
“It’s all natural, 100%. It’s all from wood chips, grasses, weeds,” Morrell said.
However, there’s just one problem. It should be spread out across 5 acres and used for growing hemp plants.
KCTV5's Gina Bullard asked him if he was ready to go.
“I’m ready to go if it wasn’t so late in the year, and I had seeds I’d be spreading and planting” Morrell responded.
Morrell says he was swindled by The Hemp People -- a business 200 miles away.
“I sent a check for $950, then I sent her another check for $1,500," Morrell said.
He lives in Peck, Kansas.
He and his son wanted to get into the hemp business as an investment. Hemp can be turned into things like clothing, construction materials and CBD oil. He says he was told a good acre of CBD brings in around $66,000.
After some research online, Morrell found a website for The Hemp People and started talking with owner, Tara Nelson. After several phone conversations, she said she would purchase hemp seeds for him and take care of the farming reports required by the state.
Morrell requested invoices from Nelson before he paid her $2,450. Then there were crickets.
“The first indicator is when she wanted to know where the check was and when I got the run around on the seed I told my family you know what we got a problem," Morrell said.
Bullard asked if he had received anything from Nelson or The Hemp People.
“Absolutely zero. She’s got my money, and I got nothing," Morrell said.
That’s why Morrell got KCTV5's Call for Action involved.
“It’s principal I don’t need the $2,450 but I’m not going to let someone take it from me. Period.” Morrell said.
KCTV5 visited the Overland Park location listed on The Hemp People website.
However, The Hemp People left the building months ago. That’s when KCTV5 went Nelson’s home.
When Bullard knocked on the door and asked if the woman who answered was Nelson, the woman said, “no.”
“You’re not Tara? You look like Tara,' Bullard asked.
Nelson finally agreed to talk to KCTV5 saying, “basically I made a mistake in ordering his seed and where it was ordered. I was trying to be helpful and I owe him $1,500 I told him I’d give that to him and it probably hasn’t even been a month that it happened."
Nelson says she got in over her head having no experience in the industry. She ordered the seed from Canada but never got it and doesn’t know how to get a hold of them.
She says she was stressed out.
“I just kind of shut down it stressed me out I’ll get him his money I’ll figure this out," she said.
Nelson started The Hemp People with a financial backer and the relationship didn’t work out. She claims she told Morrell she was having issues, but he says he was left in the dark.
Last year, Kansas lawmakers approved a pilot program for industrial hemp. You have to be a licensed grower to participate which Morrell is.
Bullard reached out to the Kansas Department of Agriculture about The Hemp People and was told Nelson, and her financial backer, Kevin Kleweno, have secondary growers licenses. Neither of them have a distributor’s license. That means they cannot legally sell hemp plants, seeds or grains to anyone.
The violation for this would be determined by law enforcement, prosecution or the courts.
When Bullard asked if Morrell would get his money, Nelson said, “Absolutely. Not just the seed money because I’m not doing the work he’ll get the $950. I’m not a bad person. I’m just a single mother that had something bad happened in a brand new business and I haven’t been able to make it right yet.”
Over text, Nelson told Morrell she mailed him the first payment of $1,500 on June 17, but he never got it. She told Bullard, she never mailed it after all.
Nelson says she’s done with the business. It’s not her calling but claims Morrell will get his money back.
As for Morrell, he’s already gambled thousands on growing hemp. He may have lost with Nelson but says he’s planning to find a licensed dealer to buy seeds so he can plant next year.