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Drug Distribution Vs. Drug Trafficking

By Hager & Schwartz, P.A.

December 28, 2020

Drug laws can be confusing and unclear in different states. Some states like Texas may have strict policies on drugs, while others like Oregon may have a looser grip on the reins. Florida falls closer to the former, being one of the strictest states in the US for illegal substances. This primarily means that Florida has more harsh penalties, fines, and other consequences when it comes to drugs.

When it comes to laws relating to illegal substances, there is often confusion regarding the difference between drug distribution & drug trafficking. The good news is that the team here at Hager & Schwartz Law is here to help give a little more context on the differences and clear up various misconceptions.

First, let’s provide some content on Flordia’s drug schedules.

Florida’s Drug Schedules

Drug schedules are generally organized by the level of addictiveness or danger each drug presents to society. Schedule I is the most dangerous, and Schedule IV is the least harmful or addictive.

Florida Schedules are as follows:

Schedule I: These are generally the most severe, including drugs like LSD and heroin, but many people are surprised to learn that Florida considers marijuana as a Schedule I substance.

Schedule II: These substances are highly addictive, including PCP, cocaine, opioids, and various types of methamphetamines.

Schedule III: These substances have some accepted medical uses and have a high risk of addiction, including codeine and anabolic steroids.

Schedule IV: These are drugs that have widely-accepted medicinal uses but are often obtained illegitimately through prescription fraud. This can often include Xanax or Valium.

Certain drugs, like cocaine and methamphetamine, are restricted at both the federal and state level, which may, in turn, make your charges more severe.

Drug Distribution

Drug distribution usually involves selling, delivering, or providing an illegal drug. A charge for this crime often falls under drug possession with intent to distribute. The primary factor when examining this charge is where & how the illegal substance moved.

Drug distribution as a third-degree felony prosecuted as possession with an intent to sell can get you up to five years and require a fine up to $5,000. A second-degree felony conviction can result in imprisonment for up to fifteen years and a fine up to $10,000.

Drug Trafficking

Drug Trafficking is a little different. This charge usually refers to the illegal sale and distribution of illicit substances. Drug trafficking is different from drug distribution because the weight and amount of the substance must be considered for trafficking, and no movement is required.

The penalties for trafficking vary depending on the degree of severity and prior felony convictions. A felony persecuted as a first-degree conviction can lead to 30 years in prison maximum. Certain offenses of this category may have mandatory minimum sentences. Penalties also tend to escalate as a greater quantity of controlled substances is involved.


There are a few exceptions to the charges listed above. A case could change if a defendant had a drug for personal use and not for drug distribution. Another potential exception that may help a drug case is if it was entrapment by law enforcement. Finally, an unlawful search & seizure is against the fourth amendment, which may be able to help your case considerably.

Next Steps

If you have been arrested for drug distribution or drug trafficking-related charges in Flordia, you will need a strong & knowledgeable lawyer to help defend your rights. Hager & Schwartz, P.A. are very experienced in these types of cases and may be able to help you. Call (386) 693-1637 today to talk to someone about setting up a defense for your case today.