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Tony Bennett calls for drug legalization in the wake of Houston's death

Danny Moloshok / Reuters

Tony Bennett proclaims "Whitney" at the end of his performance during the 2012 Pre-Grammy Gala & Salute to Industry Icons at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills, Calif., Feb. 11.

When Tony Bennett took the stage at Clive Davis' pre-Grammy gala on Saturday, he offered more than just happy memories of the late Whitney Houston.

Bennett used the opportunity to ask that the U.S. government re-evaluate its stance on drugs, using Amsterdam as an example of a successful policy.

"First it was Michael Jackson, then Amy Winehouse, now the magnificent Whitney Houston," he began. "I'd like every person in this room to campaign to legalize drugs."

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He continued: "Let's legalize drugs like they did in Amsterdam. No one's hiding or sneaking around corners to get it. They go to a doctor to get it."

Bennett's statements come months after Jackson's doctor, Conrad Murray, was found guilty of involuntary manslaughter for his involvement in prescribing and administering a fatal dose of the drug propofol. Winehouse, who had battled addiction for many years, died in July of alcohol poisoning. While the cause of Houston's death is not yet known, the singer was said to have fought addiction in recent years.

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In a 2009 interview with Oprah Winfrey, Houston admitted to using both cocaine and marijuana during her ill-fated marriage to Bobby Brown.

Bennett went on to perform "How Do You Keep the Music Playing" in honor of the Houston, who had been scheduled to perform at the party.

"This is a song Frank Sinatra asked me to sing," Bennett told the crowd. "I'd like to dedicate it to Whitney. When I first heard her, I called Clive Davis and said, 'You finally found the greatest singer I've ever heard in my life.' "

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For his part, Davis told the audience that he was "personally devastated by the loss of someone who meant so much to me."

On the eve of music's biggest night, the Recording Academy has scrambled to pull together an appropriate tribute to the iconic Houston. Jennifer Hudson has been confirmed to perform on Sunday's Grammy telecast.

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