THE manager of a mental health charity has warned of the potential dangers of smoking cannabis.

Her comments follows Keith Thompson's declaration that he will keep smoking pot despite his home being raided by police.

As reported in yesterday's Adver, Keith, 53, pictured right, has been smoking between 10 and 12 rolled-up joints for 30 years.

Police found eight cannabis plants at his house in The Rosary, Wootton Bassett, but he insists they were for his own use and he is doing no harm.

He was questioned by police and later released without charge.

Kathleen Aitken, manager of Swindon and District MIND, said: "The problem is that cannabis can affect different people in different ways and unfortunately for some people it can tip them into psychosis. There's no way of knowing ahead of time which people are in that category. This person could be potentially damaging himself."

Mrs Aitken has called for a greater awareness on the risks of smoking cannabis.

"There are statistics now that show there is a huge rise of people admitted to the mental health system through smoking cannabis and people don't really appreciate the dangers."

A spokesman from Swindon Druglink, which helps drug addicts tackle their addictions, agreed with Mrs Aitken.

"It's well documented that people that smoke cannabis can enhance psychiatric problems," he said.

But he pointed out that Mr Thompson's use might not be as prolific as it appears.

"Twelve a day sounds a lot but it depends on how much he puts in," he said.

"If it's just a tiny bit in each one it might not be as bad as it sounds.

"It could be worse to have one a day rather than 10 because it all depends on the strength."

He added that it was important for people to remember cannabis is still an illegal drug despite it being downgraded to a class C.

"It still is an illegal drug and I think that because of the reclassification people think that it's not that harmful," he said.

"When it was first reclassified we had people coming in who thought it was legal now but it's not."

The spokesman said there was no direct link between people using cannabis and progressing on to harder drugs, but said: "What we tend to find is cannabis users are younger people. It's not uncommon that people on the harder drugs have used cannabis in the past."