Both offenses involve the intent to distribute illegal drugs, but the laws against trafficking specify certain amounts of drugs. The trafficking statute also sets out escalating penalties as the drug amounts increase. The laws on possession with intent to distribute do not specify any minimum quantities.
Generally offenses charged under the trafficking statute are more serious, and carry harsher penalties than those under the distribution statutes. Both offenses carry minimum-mandatory sentences. Additionally, greater sentences are imposed if the offender has been previously convicted of the same offense.