In the wake of Whitney Houston's death, singer Tony Bennett has asked for drugs to be legalised so that people could "get it from a doctor, not just some gangsters".
Bennett, 85, has been candid in the past about his own battles with drug addiction, including an overdose from cocaine in the late seventies.
At a pre-Grammys party on Saturday he told the crowd at the Beverly Hills Hilton, the same hotel where Houston's body was found and was still being examined, that less stringent drug laws would have saved Michael Jackson, Amy Winehouse and finally Whitney Houston.
"I'd like to have every gentleman and lady in this room commit themselves to get our government to legalize drugs," Fox News quoted Bennett as saying. "So they have to get it from a doctor, not just some gangsters that just sell it under the table," he said.
Bennett intimated that it was dangerous street drugs that killed Jackson, Winehouse and Houston. However, the drug that ultimately killed Michael Jackson, was the powerful anesthetic propofol, administered by his doctor, Conrad Murray.
Coroners determined that Amy Winehouse's 2011 death was caused by an accidental alcohol poisoning, not a mixture of street drugs, despite the singer's past history with substances like cocaine and heroin. The cause of Houston's death has yet to be determined, but reports suggest that it was likely a mix of alcohol and prescription pills.
"Bennett's remarks were misleading because in every case he mentioned we are talking about legal prescription drugs or alcohol," said addiction specialist Marty Ferrero, the Senior Clinical Director of Adult Services at Caron Treatment Center. "To me it seemed inappropriate in terms of timing and had nothing to do with what we are talking about here. "On the face of this tragedy it was ill-timed, inappropriate and misleading," Ferrero added.