When most of the public refers broadly to "drug charges," they mean to refer to drug possession charges, specifically. However, there are several other common drug charges with very specific elements that you may face. Depending on the charges themselves, you may have different kinds of sentencing, or may need to employ entirely different defenses.
Two commonly confused drug charges are drug dealing and drug trafficking. In very broad terms, "dealing" refers to drug distribution on a small scale, while "trafficking" refers to drug distribution on a larger scale, but there are other important distinctions.
For instance, you may face drug dealing charges if law enforcement believes that you distribute drugs on a street level, but does not suspect you are very high up in a distribution structure. Of course, even if you are not very high in a particular distribution structure or chain of command, you may face trafficking charges if you get apprehended with a large enough quantity of drugs on your person.
Trafficking generally refers to distributing middle and large-scale amounts of various drugs. In some instances, the type of drugs involved may automatically increase the severity of charges or may require much smaller quantities to qualify as trafficking. If you do face trafficking charges, you may face serious jail time, such as 10 years or more.
Whatever the charges you face, be sure that you obtain legal counsel from an experienced defense attorney who understands how to build individualized defenses for many kinds of drug charges. Proper legal counsel ensures that you do not miss key protections while you fight for your future freedom.
Source: Findlaw, "Types of Drug Crimes," accessed Nov. 03, 2017