Posted On: February 12, 2010 by Shorstein, Lasnetski & Gihon

The Difference Between Trafficking in Illegal Drugs and Possession of Illegal Drugs in Florida

As criminal defense lawyers in Jacksonville, Florida, we handle a lot of drug cases from smaller possession of marijuana cases to more serious trafficking in marijuana, crack cocaine, pills and methamphetamine cases. One question that arises fairly often is: What is the difference between possession of illegal drugs and trafficking in illegal drugs?

Most people think of a major drug dealer moving large quantities of drugs when they think of drug traffickers. However, that is not necessarily the case, particularly when dealing with possession of illegal pills such as Lortab, Percocet, Vicodin, Oxycodone and Oxycontin, among others, without a prescription. It only takes a few pills to meet the requirements for a trafficking in pills charge. For other drugs like crack cocaine, powder cocaine or methamphetamine, there is a bigger difference between drug trafficking and possession. It takes 28 or more grams of cocaine to be charged with trafficking in cocaine and 14 or more grams of methamphetamine to meet the requirements for trafficking in methamphetamine. However, while those amounts are clearly more than short term personal use amounts, when you see them, they still are not the huge quantities of drugs some might expect for a trafficking charge.

With respect to trafficking in marijuana, it takes 25 pounds of marijuana to be charged with trafficking. So for marijuana at least, there is a pretty clear difference between simple possession and trafficking.

For pills, however, the difference is the most minute. It only takes a few pills to be charged with the serious charge of trafficking in pills and face the potential of significant prison time. This is scary because a lot of people may have old pills laying around or may have borrowed some for a particular injury or condition and may unwittingly have a trafficking amount of pills in their home.

In terms of what a person needs to do with the drugs to be charged with trafficking, there is no difference between possession and trafficking. All that is required to be charged with trafficking in illegal drugs is to have the drugs in one's possession. It is the amount, or weight, of the drugs which makes up the key differences depending on the particular drug.