What’s the Difference Between Drug Possession and Drug Trafficking?

Under Florida law, it is unlawful to possess a chemical or controlled substance unless it is a prescription drug and you have a legal basis to possess it. So naturally, it’s important to know and understand what we mean when we used the word possession. I talk to people all the time that will say things like, “it wasn’t even mine” or “I was holding it for my friend” or “I forgot that my cousin/girlfriend/roommate left that in my car, but it’s not mine.” You get the picture. So, what IS possession? There are two ways to define possession under Florida law – there is what we call “actual” possession and then there’s what is known as “constructive” possession.

To prove Actual Possession, the person accused must have knowledge of the drug’s presence and that either the substance was in their hand, on them (in their pocket, on their lap, in their sock, shoe, underwear, etc.), or within ready reach and is under their control. We’re not getting into all the various legal issues and defenses that you may have here, because there are many factors that play a role in whether or not the drugs found may or may not be admissible in the case. For an analysis about your case, contact our office for a confidential consultation. As for the definition, it is clear to see that the issue is not who purchased the drugs or who they may belong to, but rather who possess it.
The second type of possession is Constructive Possession. Constructive possession means the person accused is aware of the presence of the drugs, that the drugs are in a place that the accused has some sort of control over and that they have the ability to control the substance. Often times, we’ll see constructive possession cases that arise out of a traffic stop with multiple people in a car or perhaps an incident at a home where multiple people are in the residence.
Now that we’ve defined possession, what is the difference between simply possessing a drug and trafficking in it? When people hear the word trafficking, many times it creates a mental image of a huge quantity of drugs, but this isn’t a scene from Scarface. In reality, trafficking charges can often involve just a small quantity of drugs. The legal difference or distinction between possession and trafficking can be much less than you might realize.

Taking a look at the quantities required to be classified as trafficking, both Oxycodone and Hydrocodone don’t require much weight before you’re looking at the possibility of a minimum mandatory (“Min/Man”) period of time in prison.

Drug Possession versus Drug Trafficking Weights*

Cannabis (Marijuana)

20 Grams or Less 1st Degree Misdemeanor
20 Grams to 25 Lbs 3rd Degree Felony (5 yr. Max)
25 Lbs. – 1,999 Lbs 1st Degree / 3 yr. Min/Man
2,000 Lbs -10,000 Lbs 1st Degree / 7 yr. Min/Man
10,000 Lbs+ 1st Degree / 15 yr. Min/Man

Cocaine

Less than 28 Grams 3rd Degree Felony (5 yr. Max)
28 Grams – 199 Grams 1st Degree Felony / 3 yr. Min/Man
200 Grams – 399 Grams 1st Degree Felony / 7 yr. Min/Man
400 Grams – 149 Kilos 1st Degree Felony / 15 yr Min/Man
150 Kilos + 1st Degree Felony / Life Min/Man

Heroin /(Morphine / Opium)

4 Grams – 13 Grams 1st Degree Felony / 3 yr. Min/Man
14 Grams – 27 Grams 1st Degree Felony / 15 yr. Min/Man
28 Grams – 29 Kilos 1st Degree Felony / 25 yr. Min/Man

Meth

14 Grams – 27 Grams 1st Degree Felony / 3 yr. Min/Man
28 Grams – 199 Grams 1st Degree Felony / 7 yr. Min/Man
200 + 1st Degree Felony / 15 yr. Min/Man

MDMA

10 Grams – 199 Grams 1st Degree Felony / 3 yr. Min/Man
200 Grams – 399 Grams 1st Degree Felony / 7 yr. Min/Man
400 + 1st Degree Felony / 15 yr. Min/Man

Oxycodone

7 Grams – 13 Grams 1st Degree Felony / 3 yr. Min/Man
14 Grams – 24 Grams 1st Degree Felony / 7 yr. Min/Man
25 Grams – 100 Grams 1st Degree Felony / 15 yr. Min/Man
100 Grams – 29 Kilos 1st Degree Felony / 25 yr. Min/Man
30 Kilos + 1st Degree Felony / Life

Hydrocodone

14 Grams – 27 Grams 1st Degree Felony / 3 yr. Min/Man
28 Grams – 49 Grams 1st Degree Felony / 7 yr. Min/Man
50 Grams – 199 Grams 1st Degree Felony / 15 yr. Min/Man
200 Grams – 29 Kilos 1st Degree Felony / 25 yr. Min/Man

At the time of this blog, possession of marijuana, listed and described as cannabis, is still a crime. While there has been a medical marijuana exception passed into law, its impact and implementation is presently unknown.

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